Sunday, September 30, 2012

#71: Bob Dylan - The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963)

I get it. I get why people love Dylan, I also get why some people can't get past his voice. However, lyrically in his time he added a level that no one had ever heard before. I've had the pleasure of listening to many of the greatest albums that came before him and I can say that nothing had come anything close to him lyrically. The man isn't afraid to talk about any subject. Maybe it's premature to say, but I believe what the Beatles did for music, Bob Dylan did for lyrics. I may not know (without research) exactly what Dylan was talking about. And while I do not know the context of the social and political atmosphere there's no question that these are topics that no one else touched before Dylan.

A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
Maybe it's because I've been drinking on a beach at night all by myself with a beautiful sky on top of me for the last few hours, but I must say that this is a vacation. Bob Dylan is amazing. He may not have the pop appeal that the Beatles had and he may not have the musicality that others may have had. However, what he has is very honest, very real and I totally understand why he is one of the biggest icons in American music. This song will forever objectify this moment and for that, I am grateful.

Don't Think Twice it's Alright
You know, I chose this song because it doesn't matter what I choose. Every track on this album has a similar feel. Contextually and historically it's amazing to consider what Dylan did. I take it all back. I don't get why some people can't get past his voice, I think it's amazing. It's not Ray Charles, it's not Frank Sinatra - but really - why does it have to be? Why do you have to be perfect in so many ways in order to be commercially successful? This is an amazing song and it appeals to the very root of what it means to be human, regardless of the beauty of the packaging that it comes in.

Oxford Town
This song sings about the injustice towards African Americans in the times of Dylan. I get why Elvis is the King and I know that Dylan gets plenty of credit for being an incredible songwriter. However, I think that this type of song takes a lot more courage to put on a record. Considering when this was released, I'm not sure if this was the popular belief, but regardless - this is a social statement about the current political climate. Dylan is clearly stating that racism is bullshit and needs to be fixed. That's the easiest way to sum it all up and I think it's incredible.

All in all, I'll end just like I began - I get it. It's honestly a sad, sad concept to think that this is the first full Bob Dylan album I've ever listened to. While my motor skills are lacking, clearly my ears are working. I'm sure I'll revisit this at some point, but really - I'm more excited at the prospect of hearing more Dylan. He's got a voice that completely appeals to me, but really it's his honesty and the lack of fear in his voice to talk about things that (in its time) shouldn't be discussed that truly appeals to me. There's no "She loves you, yeah yeah yeah" in his catalogue. The closest this album comes to social conformities is the song which features a twelve bar blues, and it only conforms in the sense of musicality. Bob Dylan sings exactly what he wants and thinks and that's something I can get 100% behind.

Tomorrow's album: Rilo Kiley's Under the Blacklight.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

#70: Regina Spektor - What We Saw From the Cheap Seats (2012)

My co-workers are convinced that she's crazy. She's got an odd sound to her and an even weirder voice at times. However, I think she's brilliant. Granted, her albums get further disconnected than I'd ever think to go, but it works because it's true to her. Her music is not only entertaining, it keeps you locked in and focused throughout.

Small Town Moon
Songs like this are why I fell in love with Regina. Her distinct vocals and cooky style carry an otherwise solid pop song. I admire everything about Spektor, especially her lack of fear. She is exactly who she is, her music reflects that and she's unapologetic. She's the full package - she's truly one of a kind.

This album and specifically this song is a little more standard pop that her previous works. Regina still brings her signature style to it, but it's a lot more radio friendly. Instead of 25% pop and 75% Spektor - it flips on it's head, and that's not to say I dislike it, it's just not what I expected. This track is very well written and performed; in many ways is a throwback to the era of big ballads.

All The Rowboats
This is the good stuff, by far the best track on the album. It has so many different sounds smashed together with such a bright feeling. The song features big drums, ominous bass, light vocals, ethereal piano, and deep lyrics. Regina continually puts out music that's like nothing else I've ever heard. Also, massive bonus points for singing along with the drums.

All in all this album has several really good songs and also some exceptional tracks. I truly enjoyed it, and while at times Regina is featuring a more 'commercially acceptable' pop path it's still a Spektor album. I'm sure I'll listen to this album again soon, her albums tend to be creepers (the more you listen the more you love it).

Tomorrow's album: Bob Dylan's The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan

Friday, September 28, 2012

#69: The Beatles - With the Beatles (1962)

Sometimes I get upset when I want to listen to early rock and roll and the Beatles come on. Also, I don't consider them 'oldies'. I consider them pioneers to modern music. This project has shown me exactly just how much the Beatles were in a league of their own. While there are times in their music they share similarities to the best of early rock and roll, the overwhelming majority is like nothing else heard before it was released.

It's easy to forget that originally the Beatles were a cover band. This song happened to be an early Motown song. While the song is a slightly updated version of the song to the early rock and roll style, this version really sets itself apart with the "Wait a minute, wait a minute - oh yeah" part of the song. It's really one of my favorite early Beatles songs.

The Beatles drew from everywhere. On this album you can hear Little Richard, you can hear close harmony country influences, some blues, and even this song from the musical 'The Music Man'. It's such a wonderful song and Paul sings it wonderfully. Even the guitar solo is among the best moments on the album, it's incredibly tasteful. Such a wonderful song.

It'd be a shame to write this review and not talk about one song written by the Beatles. McCartney and Lennon are the greatest songwriters in history. However, this album really shows just how far the Beatles came in such a short time. This song sounds nothing like the other early rock and roll albums I've heard thus far. There's a further mix of genres and there's the X factor. I don't know how else to put it, there's something new that's introduced on this album that's not apparent in other 50's and 60's albums. There's a 'new' sound that's just never been heard for. It's no wonder people went crazy for them.

All in all, I get it now. Now that I hear the context this album was released in, it's completely apparent why the Beatles were so big. I can only imagine never hearing anything like this and then all of a sudden this album changing the landscape. While this was not the Beatles début album, it had to have been just as influential (if not more) to the music community. It's not a must hear album, but it's historical influence is extremely important to pop music.

Tomorrow's album: Regina Spektor's What We Saw From the Cheap Seats.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

#68: Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel... (2012)

Fiona Apple became one of my all time favorites the moment I heard her début album, "Tidal". A few months back I bought this album and filed it away. I wanted to save it for when I was sitting on a beach, and now that I'm finally listening to it I can say that she has not disappointed and it's well worth the wait.

"Don't let me ruin me - I may need a chaperone" I love Fiona Apple. This isn't music one would "normally" listen to but it's just so incredibly good. From the quick hits of the piano to the quick march of the drums there's no weak spots on the track, it's just awesome.

The chord voicings are so specific to Apple, I need to figure out how to mimic them. They're so thick, so dissonant, but so beautiful. The lyrics are dark, yet somehow uplifting. Her life is over and now she's going to live vicariously through her valentine. Such incredibly words and the music isn't far behind. The chorus is so catchy and poppy, but it never loses it's cooky feeling.

Left Alone
She's still pushing boundaries. The drum solo that leads the song in is followed by a very odd piano. I wondered what she could possibly do melodically with it, and yet she finds just the perfect line. Not only does she pull out of the verse but she melds it to an even cooler chorus. Not enough has been said about her voice, Apple has one of the greatest voices I've ever heard. She expresses emotion in such a way that it pierces right through me and moves me from the inside.

All in all, she's a treasure. She's not for everyone, but dammit she's absolutely stellar. Lyrically she's much deeper than most other songwriters and it's only amplified by her well crafted music. At it's root it's another Fiona Apple album that shows considerable growth and it surely is something special.

Tomorrow's album: The Beatles' With the Beatles.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

#67: Ray Price - Night Life (1962)

Ever heard of Ray Price? Me neither. He's (apparently) got one of the best male voices in country music. However, I don't hear it. He doesn't have a bad voice, he just doesn't have the strength to carry this particular instrumentation. There's nothing going on musically throughout the album and really there's not much going on vocally either.

Night Life
There's only one redeeming quality to this track and that's a small vocal part near the end of the song. Other than that, it's a poorly written song from 1962. I hate to be so brutally honest, it's just that there's nothing I can really find in order to compliment it. It's the title track of the album and sadly, it may be the best track on the album.

The Twenty Fourth Hour
There's really nothing original about this song. The lyrics are trite and simple (not in an endearing way). The music has really nothing to it, you could find anyone on the street and have them playing it within hours (not in an endearing way). Usually when the music is very simple it's to showcase the vocals, and when the vocals are exceptionally good - then it can be used to great effect. Here we see simple music coupled with mediocre vocals, this produces a very, very boring environment.

A Girl in the Night
Let's face it, I chose this song so I could go back on the beach and drink beer while I choke down the rest of this album. I'm writing this review quickly because my mind is frantically trying to avoid the music in my ears. It's not bad, it's just there's nothing to it. The steel guitar is maybe the only redeeming quality about this entire album and still it does absolutely nothing for me. I hate to judge the album so quickly, but at the same time I started wondering how much longer I have to listen to this - only to discover that I was on track 3.

All in all, I don't know who out there put this album on the '1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die' and I don't know if it's a cruel joke - but I'm disappointed. The last 10 albums on the list have been great. This, however, doesn't make sense. Is there really no better early country albums to choose from? I have no issue considering a country album 'good' but there's really nothing good about this.

Tomorrow's album: Fiona Apple's The Idler Wheel.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

#66: Paul McCartney - Memory Almost Full (2007)

He's one of the most celebrated musicians and he's the most successful songwriter of all time. His album, 'Memory Almost Full' is pretty split between rock and soft rock, but the song writing is still sharp. McCartney is without a doubt my biggest musical influence.

Dance Tonight
Incredible song and also a really solid music video (featuring Natalie Portman). At some point I'll either rent, buy, or borrow a mandolin just to record this song. It's such a simple yet incredible song, and that's why Paul is the man. "Everybody gonna dance tonight, everybody gonna feel alright, every body gonna dance around tonight." I wish I could whistle.

Nod Your Head
When will McCartney be out of good ideas? Hasn't he hit his quota yet? While Paul is getting older this track shows (musical) youth. Vocally, McCartney knows his limits and stays within then, but it's got a very modern punch to it. While some of the tracks aren't that deep lyrically, musically they are rich.

Mr. Bellamy
Best track on the album. This is what I expected/wanted when I went to listen to this album. It's a little cooky, it's original, and it's clearly McCartney. I'm glad he's still doing things that challenge me to listen to music differently, and I wish there were more tracks similar to this on the rest of the album. Entertaining for the mind and the ears.

All in all, it's a really good album. I mean, it's Paul McCartney - how could it not be? However, if you're looking for your first solo McCartney album, may I suggest 'McCartney II'? This album proves Paul's still got it. It's very enjoyable, there were only a few tracks that just didn't grab me on the first few listens, but the rest of it was solid song writing.

Tomorrow's album: Ray Price's Night Life.

Monday, September 24, 2012

#65: Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd - Jazz Samba (1962)

Let it be known that this was the album that caused the scoring system to break. It was night time, on the beach, fireworks going off over the nearby pier, and the water barely hitting my feet. Perfect conditions for drinking a beer and enjoying some music. Still this album failed to get me going. I had a hard time rating this as high as other albums I enjoyed just out of sheer recognition of how well it was made.

I enjoy this music, don't get me wrong. Stan Getz has a sax sound that is absolutely his, when I hear it - I know it's him and I'm always happy to hear it. However when listening to this album as a focal point - the samba becomes wearisome. It's easy to do other things while listening and in fact, that's the only way I can enjoy it.
The bass particularly is my favorite instrument across the recordings (aside from Getz). It has such a round, large tone to it that is ideal for carrying a Samba. Coming in a close second is Mr. Charlie Byrd on the guitar. I really enjoyed his pickings and his voicings, he added a lot to the music without having to be the focal point.  While both gentleman may share top billing on the album, it's clearly Getz that grabs your ear and holds it the longest.

All in all, I can truly appreciate why Getz is called "The Sound". I love putting on Getz while I'm doing other things, it's excellent background music. It, unfortunately, fails to keep my attention - and I'm not saying it should. There's a place in music for all different types, just what Mr. Getz brings to the table is not what I'm looking for. There's no denying this is incredibly well made music and it belongs on the list of '1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die'.

Tomorrow's album: Paul McCartney - Memory Almost Full

Sunday, September 23, 2012

#64: Elizabeth and the Catapult - Taller Children (2009)

I found out about this little gem of a band because they opened for Sara Barellies. While, I was unable to make the show I was happily surprised to find this album. However next time Sara or Elizabeth is in town, I'm going. It's their debut album and hopefully they only get better.

Momma's Boy
Elizabeth clearly states, "I'm not your mother." And while that's the overarching theme of the lyrics - the music has all kinds of components. This song has a slight carnival feel to it (thanks to the organ) mixed with big, thick drums. It's witty, it's catchy, and it's a really solid track.

Taller Children
Best track on the album. It has a little more pop sensibilities to it, but the horns make the track for me. Who can argue that "In the end we're all just taller children?" My favorite part has to be the bridge, especially when it converts back into the main theme. Musically it doesn't get better on the record.

Everybody Knows
The opening is the best part of the song, I love the tribal percussion. The only issue with this track and some of the others is that it's just a little too repetitive. Elizabeth and the Catapult are a really solid band and I wish they had more albums. Moments in this song really showcase the talent and the potential that they have to put out some really incredible music.

All in all, I enjoyed it. It's not something I would recommend to everyone, but it gels with me and there's definitely a market. I play this album about once every three weeks, so I guess it's technically in the rotation. Not much else to say, it's not ground breaking, but it adds in some unlikely sources to keep it all interesting.

Tomorrow's album: Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd's Jazz Samba.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

#63: Booker T and the MG's - Green Onions (1962)

This is one of the first racially integrated rock groups. However, they are best known for their hit - Green Onion. They're an instrumental band that played hundreds of cover songs.

Comin' Home Baby
There are only twelve notes, you're bound to play the same ones sometime. I had to enlist my friend, Mike, to help me figure out who "stole" this lick from this song. The organ theme has the same voicings and feel as the song "I'm a Man" by the Spencer Davis Group. I'm sure it was unintentional, but then again it's not hidden, it's the overwhelming theme to both songs. I don't see anything else about it on the internet, but surely  I'm not the first person to hear it.

Green Onions
What a cool song, such a simple, cool bass line. It's one of the only instrumental track that I can say truly "rocks". It's been used in so many other forms of entertainment: American Graffiti, Happy Gilmore, and Get Shorty to name a few. Someone asked Booker T, "Why Green Onions?" Booker T replied, "Because that is the nastiest thing I can think of and it's something you throw away."

Behave Yourself
Another twelve bar blues filled with a whole lotta soul and a whole lotta blues. The organ again forces itself into the forefront only to be pushed aside for a sweet, succulent guitar. Oddly enough the song ends on a fade during one of the solos (this happens a few times throughout the record).

All in all, it was interesting. While I do not see myself listening again any time soon - Green Onions is still pretty boss. I can recognize that this music is very good, it just fails to get me going.

Tomorrow's album: Elizabeth and the Catapult's Taller Children.

Friday, September 21, 2012

#62: Jamie Cullum - The Pursuit (2009)

I've been reviewing albums at a break neck speed while staring at the ocean, but since it'll be over in a few days - it's time to pull out some of my absolute favorites. This is Cullum's best album. Why he's not bigger in the states - I'll never know. He's jazz pop made with 100% jazz and 100% pop.

I love the simple piano for the verse that also makes an appearance in the prechorus. The track has the a fluidness to it that very few songs possess, it's seamless. The music reflects the lyrics when "The wheels are falling off the world," the track just gets bigger and bigger.

Don't Stop The Music
This is the definition of an amazing cover. It sounds nothing like Rihanna's version, it sounds as if Cullum wrote it himself. I don't dislike the original, but Jamie found all the redeeming qualities and scrapped the rest. If you enjoy Rihanna's version, this is a must listen.

I Think I Love
This is the type of song that made me fall in love with Cullum. It's unmistakeably crooner music with a more modern set of lyrics. "You threw up in the taxi cab on the way home." Then again, it stays true to the genre. It creates such a warm feeling with just strings, piano, and vocals. An absolutely brilliant song.

All in all, what a cool album. It's all over the spectrum of jazz and pop and plenty of in between. However, the best moments is when Cullum is glued next to his keyboard. I just want to see him live so I can be there for the end of "Mixtape" - I'm sure the crowd goes nuts. Jamie makes the piano such a cool instrument, this may not be in the top 10 albums of all time, but it's surely in my top 25 favorites.

Tomorrow's album: Booker T and the MG's Green Onion.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

#61: Ray Charles - Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music (1962)

Instead of switching off between albums that I choose and records from, '1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die' I've been listening to them in succession  They've just been so good and when I see Ray Charles and Bill Evans on the list - it's just hard to say no when they're next on the docket.

You Don't Know Me
This is a classic Charles song. He's just got that voice, and when he sings, "I'm just a friend, that's all I've ever been. Cause you don't know me" it just makes you feel for the guy. Timeless. I don't know if there's a better word for it and maybe it's overused but this doesn't sound dated to me.

Half as Much
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. This is exactly what I'm looking for. It's a beautiful love song with witty lyrics, soulful vocals, and excellent instrumentation. The more I listen to Ray the more I fall in love with him. I never thought I could enjoy another artist as much as I do the Beatles. While it's impossible to compare the two - I think Ray is the closest I'll ever get. Why did I wait this long to start listening working through his catalogue?

Careless Love
It feels like there's just as many musicians that have been inspired by this as there are that inspired this. It's Ray at his best, he doesn't do anything (on paper) that's awe inspiring, but then when you put it together it's the most amazing sound. The instrumentation is simple, yet incredible. I don't know if this music is forcing me to sway or if it's this beach house on stilts. It's funny to hear the embellishment at 1:15 and then listen to John Mayer's 'Gravity' at 2:48. Obviously, Mayer didn't copy it  - I'm just making the point that Ray Charles' legacy still has a very, very wide reach all these years later.

All in all, Ray just doesn't get enough credit. The man is an undisputed genius. When people discuss the absolute greats his name doesn't come up enough. Especially when you consider the varying cast of musicians releasing albums at the same time as this, he makes everything seem like child's play. The man is untouchable. I enjoyed the previous Ray Charles album a bit more, but that shouldn't take away from how good this is.

Tomorrow's album: Jamie Cullum's The Pursuit.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

#60: John Mayer - Continuum (2006)

It's his masterpiece. However, I hope he hasn't peaked yet. Mayer's song writing is at his finest, it's his adult album. Granted, on a personal level Mayer can be kind of a douche bag, but forget his personal life and forget "Your Body is a Wonderland". Regardless about how you feel about the man behind the music, he is one of the best guitarists and songwriters of my generation.

Mayer brings the blues on this album, and it's none more apparent than on this track. The falsettos on this chorus provides a sharp contrast to the verse. Of course, the guitar work is second to none. It provides such a cool, laid back groove. One of my favorites.

Stop This Train
Throughout all of the music I've listened to in my lifetime, I can say one thing for certain: this is my favorite song of all time. The guitar and brushes create the sound of an unstoppable train while Mayer sings about the fears of getting older. "Don't how else to say it, don't wanna see my parents go." The song is full of incredibly deep, honest lyrics that resonate with me much more than anything else I've ever heard.

I'm Gonna Find Another You
Best melody, coolest guitar, and best feel on the album. It's another blues number that has a very simple story. "If I'm forced to find another, I hope she looks like you - yeah and she's nicer to." What a perfect way to end the record.

All in all, I'm just completely against the grain on this one. Critics don't rate it nearly high enough for me. I'd like to hear a better written and recorded album the year this was released. If you haven't seen his live DVD "Where the Light Is" you really should. Mayer is one of the most talented musicians in the past twenty years. John Mayer and this album are the #1 and #2 reasons why I purchased a guitar. Never before has any instrument seemed quite this cool to me.

Tomorrow's album: Ray Charles' Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

#59: Bill Evans - Sunday at the Village Vanguard (1961)

I admire Bill Evans - he gets it. His solos are always on, he knows where the line is and he runs up to it at full speed never going over. The real reason I've always considered Bill Evans as one of the greatest jazz musicians to study from was because of his voicings. They're always abnormally thick and juicy.

Man's Gone
Even Bill Evans' comping is unmatched. It's still very melodic and soulful yet it's completely out of the way for his extremely talented bassist, Scott LaFaro. It seems like every lick he plays could be developed into it's own song and this guy is pounding them out like a machine. The drums stay out of the way on this track because between Evans and the LaFaro there's just so much one man can take.

Alice in Wonderland
I find it absolutely delightful. The bass solo specifically has a lot to choose from in terms of really incredible moments. However, when it all comes back in and Evans plays quite simply (for him) it carries such weight because it's such a beautifully written song. That's why Evans is the man, he always plays what's exactly appropriate for that moment. Then again when your voice your chords like Evans, what doesn't sound brilliant?

Jade Visions
The song's header starts quite slowly, quite sombre. When the solo begins the light finds the picture. Throughout the music the darkness returns if only for a moment - just to remind you how beautiful the light was. Then just as quickly as it began the light fades back into the darkness.

All in all, how could you not dig Bill Evans? I understand some people aren't into jazz, but I think anyone with ears would say that this is really, really good stuff. As for jazz musicians Evans is absolutely my favorite. His solos are both out there where you have to pay attention to get it, but simple enough you can just sit back and listen.

Tomorrow's album: John Mayer's Continuum.

Monday, September 17, 2012

#58: Michael Buble - Crazy Love (2009)

By far this is Buble's best album. It doesn't hurt that he covers some of the best American classics, both old and new. However, his fresh approach to these 'untouchable' songs work. They breathe new life into them just to remind us just how truly amazing they are.

All of Me
I've always been a sucker for this song, and while it may be sacrilegious to some: I consider this the definitive version. If I were ever to cover it, this is exactly how I envisioned it going in my head. The horn hits just make the song, plus Buble can sing his ass off. This track provides so many huge moments (like the closing chorus), I absolute adore this recording.

Heartache Tonight
It's always been one of my favorite Eagles songs and when you listen to Buble's version you start questioning weather there were horns in the original. They just fit so well. Tracks like this is why Buble's still selling out all over the world. Like many songs on this album it's a tough track to cover, but Buble rises to the occasion.

Cry Me A River
What an epic horn part to start the song. The whole thing is very bond-ish. Definitely the best track on the album. It just oozes cool. The strings make this track; they take it to the next level. The arrangement calls for them to pop in and out just adding more and more every time. It's a must listen. It's such a departure from the original and it's hard to believe it wasn't meant to be like this from the start.

All in all, it's a solid album. While there's a few tracks that fail to get me going - the majority is very solid. "Haven't Met You Yet" was the single that really propelled this album, it's also just one of the two tracks written by Buble. Not enough can be said about the band that backs him night in and night out. They are a very talented group.

Tomorrow's album: Bill Evans' Sunday at the Village Vanguard.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

#57: Muddy Waters - Muddy Waters at Newport (1960)

Muddy Waters is amazing. This album made me reconsider all of the previous scores I gave to past blues/jazz albums. Before this album I would rate it based upon how good it was - if I didn't dig it, it didn't matter. I can hear when an album is really solid - anyone can. However, this album is not only influential, but the music is phenomenal and it hits you in the chest. This is the blues at it's best and if it's not - I'd love to hear something better. What's even crazier? This was recorded live.

I Got My Mojo Working
Not all blues songs are made equal. Muddy keeps it clean and fresh throughout the album with varying tempos and feels. But It's all blues. "I got my mojo working but it just don't work on you." This is beyond words it's just so damn good. I hear so many of my all time favorites in Muddy's music. There's no way John Popper has never heard this album. It has so much energy, how could anyone in the crowd resist going nuts? It's so good that after the song - they play it again.

(I'm Your) Hoochi Coochie Man
He does the blues better than anyone I've ever heard and it's not even close. Clapton's 'Unplugged' album has always been my go to blues album for musicality and the Blues Brothers for energy. They both have been dethroned. Muddy's band is just as talented as he, they're phenomenal but still... Muddy is the man. He's go the soul, he's got the pain, he's got the confidence, he's got everything.

Soon Forgotten
The piano is ridiculous. It's covered in soul and blues and it makes some of the best sounds out of a piano ever made. The harmonica plays so well off of everything, no one steps on each other's toes which is really is amazing considering all that's going on. Sure, the drums are simple but they get it done. I can't say this enough: this is the blues, this is the best I've ever heard.

All in all, I can't help but wonder how anyone who was born in this era didn't grow up wanting to be Muddy Waters. I love me some Stevie Ray Vaughan and I can't help but think that Muddy left a huge impression on him. This is one of the greatest albums of all time. I'm just in disbelief, I didn't know that blues could be this good - if I ever get my hands on a time machine the first stop will be going back to witness this performance.

Tomorrow's album: Michael Buble's Crazy Love.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

#56: Mumford and Sons - Sigh No More (2009)

I don't think it's possible to listen to Florence and the Machine and Mumford and Sons back to back. It's like eating and swimming, there really needs to be a thirty minute waiting period. This album is full of angry bluegrass. I don't know what else to call it - incredible isn't specific enough. This album exploded a few years after it's release, proving that no matter how well something is hidden - if it's good, it'll find the masses.

The Cave
Such a beautiful picking part and what amazing lyrics. I still have no idea what's actually being said because I just can't get past the melody and the atmosphere. "And I won't let you choke on the noose around your neck." This album (but this song in particular) changes so radically throughout that it's hard not to continuously get sucked in.

White Blank Page
It's a struggle not to spotlight every song that comes up. However, this track is absolutely one of the best on the album. The harmonies throughout create such tension coupled with rage and beauty. It creates the most amazing moments on each and every track. For instance when he sings, "I'm clean," I always am overwhelmed. The wordless vocal part at the end is the absolute perfect way to end this track.

Little Lion Man
I'm always hesitant to spotlight the singles of the album because they're the obvious picks. Sometimes those songs are just so big, so full, and they make themselves impossible to ignore. The chorus creates the best moments on this album (save from 'Dust Bowl Dance's "Go out back and get my gun") and the verse isn't far behind. It's the undisputed best track on the record. Musically it's unlike anything else I've ever heard and lyrically it's nothing short of stellar.

All in all, it continues to blow my mind grapes every time I listen to it. I've caught myself saying "There's not a bad track on the album" Which is incorrect. There's not one good track on the album - everything is great or better. This record delivers on each and every track. The song writing is phenomenal.

Tomorrow's album: Muddy Waters' at Newport.

Friday, September 14, 2012

#55: Jimmy Smith - Back at the Chicken Shack (1960)

Considering the name of the album, (assuming you don't already know) what style of music do you think this album contains?

That's what I thought too but it's jazz. It's only six tracks long and not enough jumped out at me, so we're going to ditch the familiar format once more.

What an organ sound throughout the album, it's so rich, so full, and yet it can flat out scream. The bass is even better with it's deep, round sound. The only instrument to put them all to shame is the sax. What a tone. It howls, it sings, it's got that breathy whisper. Night Court's sax ain't got nothing on this guy.

I don't know what the difference is between previous jazz albums and this, but as far as every album that I've reviewed so far, this is the technically the best recorded album yet. Everything is so vibrant and bright. It has the full gamut of frequencies and it really sounds modern.

I struggle to focus on the music, but I do find it exceedingly easy to daydream while listening. If you're looking for some non-wallpaper jazz music to have on in the background then this has to be on your list. It's impossible to think this could be left off anyone's 50 best jazz albums list.
All in all, it's very solid. I wish I were still into jazz like I used to be. Then maybe I'd be able to truly appreciate it. These musicians are greater than the sum of their parts. I'll be playing this record at work for sure.

Tomorrow's album: Mumford and Sons' Sigh No More.