Thursday, April 5, 2012

Top 5 Hip Hop Artists

I generally do not like hip hop. In fact, I can be pretty bitter about it and those who listen to it. I do like a little of everything, though, so I can probably squeeze out a few artists that don't make me want to vom.


So technically, they aren't reeeeally 'hip hop'. Wikipedia describes them as 'trip hop'. I don't really know what that means, but they rhyme, so I'm including it.

I first heard these guys on Skins a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Looked them up, continued to like them, and you know, it keeps on going. They do sound a little generic, but as background singalong music, it's pretty good. You know, when you're on the net and singing along but not really paying attention to the music? Yeah. They're good for that.

4. LADI 6

A hip hop singer from New Zealand, she's got a smooth, soulful voice with a hint of edge that makes me crave a day on the beach. With a barbecue. Mm... barbecue.

I don't have a lot of music by chicks. I don't want to sound like I'm generalising here, but chicks don't usually like the music I listen to enough to perform it. The majority of music that I do have by female artists aren't in the same genre as my favourite bands (Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen... Patti Smith is an obvious exception). But I do enjoy some good black lady singing voice. And this one is particularly good.


There isn't a whole lot to say about Michael Franti - he does sound the same as most others in his genre, however I enjoy his more than others for the nostalgia factor. You can not hear his songs for years, then turn them on and still know all the words.

Reggae and lax-type music is always enjoyable, but I do find that too much of it becomes just that - too much. Can't listen to too many albums before I just start wishing for a more upbeat and interesting sound.


Now, Gorillaz is a band that I can not see myself getting sick of. There is so much variation in their music, even from song to song, not just album to album, that you often forget you're listening to the same artist the whole way.

Demon Days is my favourite album by them. It has a lot of moods, and the flow from start to finish is so pleasing. The upbeat, catchy dancy-type tunes juxtaposed with the mellow, lazy-type tracks is at a perfect balance, it's hard not to enjoy.


Fantastically talented rapper and spoken-word poet Sage Francis is absolutely my favourite hip hop artist. I discovered him on one of those nights when you sit in your mate's room with like six other mates and get drunk while listening to anything you can find on someone's laptop that only works when you hold it in the right position. You know? Well, he's awesome, anyway.

It does surprise me that I can hate so much rap and hip hop but still enjoy artists like Sage Francis. I mean, what I love about him is his way with words - the lyrics to his songs make them more enjoyable, in contrast to other hip hop artists who sing without substance. I guess, in the end, I like music, but I respect talent.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Top 6 Songs Named After Girls

This little scene in Family Guy made me think about all the songs written about chicks, and how awesome they are. Aside from the 31 listed in this clip, I thought of about 15 more. I really, really tried to chisel them down to five, but in the end I had to make it six. Just couldn't decide which one to cut. Which is surprising, really, because the first one I am going to name just so happens to be by...


Not really sure why/how I can like this song. Let's be honest, MCR suck balls, but I just like some of their songs. The catchy ones. And I suppose I can never get away from the fact that Gerard Way looks like one of my mates, on whom I used to have a rather sizeable crush. That shit's hard to escape.

But the song itself is passable, as it's catchy, it's got some hooks, and the guitarist is not terrible. He's NOT TERRIBLE, is all I'm saying.


Rubber Soul was the first Beatles album I bought, and that was only about a year ago. I may get some hate from this, but I used to loathe The Beatles. Reeeeally hated them. But then I met Karl, a mate of mine who worships them, was thrown into his world and came out the other side with a new respect for those Liverpoolian bastards.

This song is particularly sweet for me because my second language is French. You know how I feel about lyrics that confess love so powerfully, and in this song the love is so strong it's in another language. That shit's deep, brah.


I know I should probably have the original one here, but I like this version better. Jack White sings this song with more power than Dolly Parton ever could have, it's more emotional, it's more raw, and he sings like it hurts. Everything he contributed to this cover made it better.

I'm not really a fan of The White Stripes otherwise. I have always angrily dismissed them as living proof that you don't need talent to be famous, but that was more aimed at Meg than Jack. That bitch can hit a snare a hundred times and call it a beat, but I don't know how the rest of us can call her a musician. Laaaaaazy.


Okay, it's another cover, but WHATEVER.

CCR reminds me of my parents. And The Big Lebowski. But mostly my parents. There were many family holidays in the car when I was younger, and there was usually a set playlist, dictated by my mum and dad's cassette collection. Usual suspects were John Williamson, The Commitments soundtrack, and Creedence.

"Suzie Q" is one of my favourites by CCR, mostly for the bluesy guitar mixed with the gruff Fogerty vocals. Despite its repetition, which I usually find annoying (lack of imagination, come on guys), it's interesting to the end with the solos and the general awesomeness that music should always provide.


I love this song mostly for its subject matter. Clapton was good friends with George Harrison back in the day, and unwittingly fell in love with his wife, Pattie Boyd. This song was his plea for her to not dismiss him, despite the difficulty of them being together. Well, ultimately it paid off and they got married after her divorce. But before that happened, Clapton was just a man on drugs and in love. And they're both pretty much the same thing.


This version of the Them original was interspersed with one of Patti Smith's poems, "Oath", opening with the memorable line, "Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine." It was created one day when Smith was reading the poem to her guitarist and friend Lenny. He picked up the guitar and started playing "Gloria" in time with it.

The song retains most of the original, but adds a punk edge with her spoken word and anarchist themes. Smith's voice also gives the whole song new meaning (not just from the new lyrics). In comparison to Van Morrison's original, where he simply says the words in sprechgesang with his gruff, gravelly voice, Smith's version is feminine and emotional, but keeps a rock sound by pairing it with hard music and edge. A simply unforgettable song.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Top 5 Songs of the Zombie Apocalypse

Pick your weapon, mode of transport and soundtrack for the zombie apocalypse. I like this debate, because when you know what someone wants to sing while brutally killing someone, then you truly find out what kind of person they are.


Weapon: Machine gun
Mode of Transport: Jeep

This song needs to be played while driving really fast through a mass of zombies, firing madly into the crowd while trying to escape. Get the adrenaline pumping, y'know?

I think that's all Rob Zombie is for. Not the slaying zombies, but the pumping adrenaline thing. I mean, I can't think of a single time that I put on Rob Zombie because I wanted to listen to it, but because I was going out or doing something that required me to get pumped in a certain way. Like, pre-gig kinda thing. You know what I mean. His music is very Stage Challenge, don't you think?


Weapon: Grenades
Mode of Transport: None

This song is kind of the end-of-the-battle, giving up song that plays for the guy who stays behind as bait, then explodes himself rather than submitting himself to an afterlife of brain-feasting.

I like the sombre tone of Cash's American albums. They're miserable and full of regret, and his voice sings pain so well. I know that doesn't make the songs sound too appealing, but they fit together so well that his songs are despondently beautiful.


Weapon: Desert Eagle
Mode of Transport: Motorcycle

I know I could only pull off the DEagle/Motorcycle look if this song were playing and if I were perhaps 4 - 5 times sexier. But my god, it's what I'm aspiring for. Riding through the desert, pulling off at abandoned gas stations looking for supplies, killing zombies and acting like such a badass that the survivors I run into know not to ask me to stay with them. I'm a lone wolf. Outlaw. Milla Jovovich.

But yeah, Danzig are cool. Even though they spawned from the same mind that spawned the Misfits (such a shitty band IMO), I am willing to overlook that fact because I can embrace the idea of a musician "growing". If Danzig was Glenn Danzig in his adulthood, the Misfits were him in his adolescence, when he was stealing his parents' ciggies and getting in trouble at school for trying to give his mate a tattoo with a compass.


Weapon AND Mode of Transport: MO'FUCKIN TANK

Man, that shit would just be awesome. Ridin' a tank through zombies with Zeppelin cranking through the speakers. Do tanks have speakers? This tank would have fucking speakers. The only thing that would beat it would be having some Wagner playing.


Weapon: Machete
Mode of Transport: My own two feet. Or a horse, if possible.

Yeah, so, I'm gonna run head first into those bitches with my machete and slice at their necks while screaming at the top of my lungs, "KILL WITH POWER!! DIE, DIE!!" I can't really imagine a better way to go. 'Cos yeah, if I'm left on my feet, I'm just gonna die. I'm not swift.

I always forget how much I love this album until I put it on. I claim Gods of War or Louder than Hell to be my favourite Manowar albums (yes, I love Manowar, what of it?), but Hail to England is pretty genius as well. "Army of the Immortals" would be a good zombie song too... hmmm...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Top 5 Songs I Love by Artists I Hate

I like a lot of music. There's a friggin' raaaange of shit in my collection, from pop to metal to jazz to hip hop to whatever - if I like it, I like it, no matter what it is. There is also a hell of a lot of music that I hate, to the very depths of my soul. However, I can admit when a song is good - even when I really, really don't want to.


This was Cilmi's debut single, and it made me fall in love with her voice. I immediately 'acquired' her album, and I immediately regretted it.

This particular song is a smooth, soulful tune that compares her to Amy Winehouse. It's edgy, it's jazzy, the lyrics are nothing spesh but the hooks make it catchy enough for that not to matter. Even more enticing, this chick was only 16 when this song was released. Fuckin' talent.

Downside? The rest of her album suuuuuucked. Just suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked. I mean, it had a couple of songs that were okay, but they were on the bad side of okay. Only a couple more smooth, soulful tunes, and the lyrics were so awful that they were hard to bear. And the rest of the tracks were just pure, bad pop (see "Messy" for the worst example of the lot). Thoroughly disappointing.


First single off their second album. I was already not a fan of Maroon 5, I suppose simply because I was a rocker, and they were not. Then this song came out, and I thought everything would change.

However, it didn't.

I guess the thing that I love about songs is the hooks. If it's got a good hook and the lyrics are fun to sing, I'll love it, and this song is full of friggin' hooks that I can't resist. Following the release of this song, I thought maybe I should give Maroon 5 another chance, maybe their second album is better than the first. Maybe, just MAYBE, I could be a fan. But I'm not. The rest of the songs were too pop for me, but this song still gets me dancing when I'm drunk.


My excuse for loving this song is that I was 15 when I first heard it. 15? Maybe 14. No, I'd just turned 15. I think. Maybe I was 16... nah. Nah, I was 15.

The guitar riffs are simple but memorable, the lyrics are punchy and repetitive, the guy's voice is ... not all bad. Not all bad. But then they slowly turned into just another rock band. You know the ones. Alterbridge. Daughtry. Hinder. Finger Eleven is no different. They all make the same music, and it's never good enough to enjoy.


HOOKS, mother fucker. And this song is full of them. My mate Jenny bought the third album by these suckers when we were 16, and while she found a warm spot within it, I did not. I guess I'm not much of a metal fan, save for Manowar and the occasional song by occasional bands. I prefer melody to malice, and that's all I really hear in metal.

This song, however, is catchy and full of earworms. That is to say, it gets stuck in your head. Also, I can't resist a good throwback to awesome movies. I don't really understand why I like this song and no others by them. If I were to guess, it may be solely because of the Fear and Loathing... references. I just can't find any appeal in the rest of their songs.


I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I actually love this song. It's so g.d. catchy. But, shit, man. What the fuck do you expect me to do with the rest of the MCR catalogue?

I suppose I have to admit here that I do own Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. It's not even the album that had this song on it. But if we're going to compare here (and we are, 'cos this is MY blog), Three Cheers... was better than The Black Parade, but "Teenagers" was better than any song released from Three Cheers...

But this song is good enough to be memorable. It has everything a popular song needs: identifiable lyrics, a tune that'll stick, a guitar solo that will take more than 40 seconds to learn. Just note that I said a "popular" song. Not a "good" song.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Top 5 Albums from 2007 - 2011

I do not listen to a lot of recently released music, and this is for two main reasons: firstly, I am always broke, so I can't pay for new CDs or downloads. Secondly, new music tends to be a little on the shitty side. Just sayin'. I trolled through nine Wikipedia pages telling me all of the albums released in the last five years, and I whittled the list down to ten albums that I'd heard and loved, then easily culled them back to five. That, in my opinion, stands for a shitty, shitty, shitty five years of music. But I digress. Here are the five albums that stuck out, like shining jewels, in a pile of shit.


The fourth studio album of my favourite band of all time, Black Gives Way to Blue was welcomed by fans who had waited almost 15 years for a new album, and was the first album with William DuVall on vocals.

DuVall, in my opinion, sounds enough like the late, great Layne Staley to pay great tribute to him, but sounds different enough that he's not impersonating him. The songs on this album matter just as much to the avid listener as the songs on Dirt or Jar of Flies or any of the other albums -- they kept their roots while they explored their new limits.

What the album is lacking, however, is that extra sound that bands can only achieve from hard drugs. Think of all the great bands at the peak of their trip, then think about the albums they released after they got clean. I'm not saying that they're bad off the drugs, I'm just suggesting that maybe they were better on them.


Third album from indie folk band The Shins, and has just as much bubblegum pop as should be expected from these guys.

Of their three albums, this one is ranked second on my list, with Oh, Inverted World placing first. Wincing... was great, of course, but I found the appearance of too many songs like "Black Wave", "Spilt Needles" and "Pam Berry" to be off-putting. The harsher, cutting sounds are not what I was expecting from the usually very upbeat and perky Shins, and I found that kicking off the album with one of those particular songs to be very hit and miss. That said, however, the rest of the album plays with the joyful tones known, loved and anticipated from The Shins.


(actual music video cannot be embedded, but is worth a watch)
The debut album from Swedish indie pop singer Lykke Li, a shock to my system that made me question if I really am a tomboy, or if deep down, I actually have girl parts.

The album was a dreamy mix of pop and indie. She has a sweet voice and an innocence to her lyrics that made the album beautifully serene, with the occasional danceable track thrown in so it's not too boring. The first song I heard was the above, "I'm Good, I'm Gone", and it kindled a small passion for the sweet lyrics and punchy tunes. Other songs like "Breaking it Up", "Complaint Department" and "Little Bit" have the same upbeat zeal, whereas other songs such as "Tonight", "My Love", "Window Blues" and "Dance, Dance, Dance" are slow moving and emotional. The songs are all so different while at the same time they have a lot of similarities - it's a great album, is all.


Debut album from rock supergroup starring two fantastic musicians and one guy that I'm willing to admit has talent, but I personally think it a moussed-up douchebag. I'm not naming any names, but let's just say that the Foo Fighters can suck a dick.

My mate Ryan recommended this album to me shortly after it came out (very shortly - maybe a couple days after it came out), and then I thrashed it for the next two or three months. I love the grungy/garagy sound they have, the perfect mix of Nirvana and Queens and Zeppelin (hmm I wonder why... great analysis LDG).

I think if I were to make any criticism about this album, it would be that the order of the tracks is not quite right. To some people this wouldn't matter, but to others (and that is to say, to me), this is one of the most important parts of an album. If the songs don't flow, then the whole album is off - a song can be completely ruined by what song follows it, what song precedes it, and sometimes, if one song is ruined, the album can be ruined, too. The problem with the order on this one is that all of their best and most memorable songs are at the beginning of the album. Luckily, this does not ruin the album, because the album is great. I just think that if the later songs were ordered differently, splicing the rest of the best, perhaps they would be more known to me. Perhaps they may even sound better.

This is entirely my opinion, of course. Don't send hate mail. Though I don't know who I'm talking to, no one reads my blog.


Fifth album from blues rock duo The Black Keys, resulting in my immediate conversion to Blackeysology, a new religion founded by the alien living inside Tom Cruise.

This is just a fucking fantastic album. It's just awesome. I can't listen to one of the songs without wanting to listen to the whole thing. I don't even know what to write about it right now, it's just too good, I don't know where to start. The lyrics, the guitar, the vocals, drumming, the random extra instruments that they shove in (listen to "Same Old Thing" featuring drummer Patrick Carney's uncle on the flute). The whole album is one, big, emotional heroin trip that ultimately results in eargasm. I want to have their babies.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Top 5 Songs that I Constantly Hear in the Supermarket

There is a certain genre of songs that I call the Supermarket Genre. These songs generally span the late 80s to almost-late 90s and are usually easy listening rock or alternative. They're the songs that I know all the words to, but almost never know the artist or the title. And I certainly wouldn't admit to listening to them outside of the supermarket. You all know the songs. You all secretly love the songs. So here are my Top 5 Supermarket Songs.


I have a lot of respect for Annie Lennox. She's one of the world's best-selling musicians, she's won shitloads of Brit awards, and I'm pretty sure she hasn't changed her hairstyle since Eurythmics.


I found out the following things about this song today:
- it is NOT actually called "Thunderbreak of Dawn"
- those aren't the lyrics, I've been singing it wrong for almost 15 years
- it's by Eagle-Eye Cherry
- Eagle-Eye Cherry is actually a dude's name, not the name of the band.
Who knew?


This song was recently voted one of the worst songs of the 90s. I wholeheartedly agree, but that didn't stop me from dancing in the beer fridge when it came on the other day.

2. MATCHBOX 20 - "PUSH" (1997)

This is maybe a supermarket song that I would actually listen to by choice, but not when anyone else was around, because I wouldn't want them thinking that I like Matchbox 20.


This song is the ultimate supermarket song. I actually remember listening to it in the Write Price in Hawera. And that shit's been closed for yeeeeeeeeears.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Top 5 Songs About Drugs

I am not advocating the use of drugs. However, if you are using drugs, I recommend listening to these songs while doing so.

Not that I ever have.


The buildup and peak of this song make a perfect concoction for a multitude of possible trips. The music itself is dark and twisted, jumping from soft drumbeats under melodic vocals to strong, thumping riffs with shouted vocals, but the lyrics themselves are calming and poetic. The juxtaposition of soothing lyrics and their raw vocalisation (listen especially to the bridge with the lyrics, "The whisper is but a shout / That's what it is all about / Yes, the ecstasy, you can pray / You will never let it slip away"), and the difference in energy between each verse and bridge -- these two aspects perform together perfectly to make an unforgettable experience. Being able to portray all of this in the form of a song is a pretty incredible feat.


There is always the dispute of what this song was originally about when Reznor first penned it -- is it a suicide note, a song for depression, or a song finding reason to live? There are definitely references to self-harm, and the poignant lyric, "The needle tears a hole / The old familiar sting", allows the song to be relevant in my list.

I, like many, many people in the world, prefer this version to the original N.I.N. version, and it's all because of Cash's voice. His baritone gives an extreme melancholy to the song that was less apparent in the original, and (my apologies) the lack of Reznor's whining gives it a lot more feeling. I do hope you know what I mean by that -- in no way am I insulting Trent Reznor, 'cos I think he's very talented, but you must admit that his voice gets a little bit of a whine in there sometimes. Without it, it makes the song better. That's all I'm saying.

Something else that gives Cash's version that little something extra is the minor change in lyrics. The N.I.N. radio edit had the line "crown of shit" changed to "crown of thorns", a change that Cash kept when recording his cover. This change reflects his strong Christian beliefs, and his request for forgiveness from his sins. It adds an extra element of sadness to a song that is pretty much already weeping.

This is quite obviously a song for a low-energy trip, uppers and hallucinogenics not recommended unless you want to kill yourself.


There is a lot less for me to talk about in this song: it's the same melody for five verses, no change in tone or content and... well, actually that's it. But it's a song about how much she loves weed. I don't see how that's a problem.


"[Purple Haze] was all about a dream I had that I was walking under the sea." - Jimi Hendrix.

Of course, this is the quintessential psychedelic drug song of the 60s, possibly of all time. For all intents and purposes it should be number one on this list, but since I'm writing about my favourites, it's taking second place.

The song is a trip inside your mind to a place of uncertainty, and rides on the feeling of infamiliarity that comes from copious amounts of LSD. 'Purple Haze' has been a term for acid since as far back as the 19th century, so there is no denying the drug influence in this song ("Purple haze all in my brain / Lately things just don't seem the same"). Starting off quickly on a simple but upbeat note before accelerating into Hendrix's trademark mind-bending guitar solos, the song plays with what would already be an altered take on reality, allowing the listener to fully understand what mastery is -- whether under an influence or not.


"Sometimes you feel you need [somebody] ... the whole universe tells you that you have to have her, you start watching her favorite TV shows all night, you start buying her the things she needs, you start drinking her drinks, you start smoking her bad cigarettes, you start picking up her nuances in her voice, you sleep in safe sometimes the most dangerous thing... this is called Mojo Pin." -- Jeff Buckley.

Buckley at first wrote the song as an interpretation of his addiction to a woman he dreamed about ("black beauty"), and through a mass of lyrical images, he sings about the pains of addiction in all forms.

A common feature in the songs in this list is the rise and fall, leading up to the peak of both the song and the high. This song is no different. The beginning of the song is melodic with beautiful guitar in the background with Buckley's emotional singing voice, building up to a pained and impassioned final chorus ("Don't want to weep for you, don't want to know / I'm blind and tortured, the white horses flow / The memories fire, the rhythms fall slow / Black beauty, I love you so"). He is expressing great love for his addiction, while at the same time his frustration and wish to be unburdened is clear as well. The song is both love and hatred, for both his addiction and himself.