Firepower, the latest from Judas Priest, is an exceptional album which maintains their classic sound. Having listened to this album a few times, I can say there are no weak links - each song adds to the whole of the record. My favorites from this album are "Lightning Strike" and the title track. Definitely recommended for any fans of Priest or classic metal.
This is Bob Dylan at his best! Having just gone electric and pushing his "novelesque" lyrics further than before, he divided his fans and most were not happy. To please them, he decided to do his concerts half-acoustic/half-electric. For my money, the acoustic stuff is the winner. His harmonica playing goes off into long beautiful tangents that seep into your soul. Here he plays "crowd favorites" such as "Mr. Tambourine Man", "Visions of Johanna" and "It's All Over Now Baby Blue." The standout track for me is "Fourth Time Around" which I never dug until hearing this version. As for the Electric side, it rips like only The Band can rip. Between songs, the crowd boos and lightly cheers, prompting some to yell "Judas" at Dylan. If you wanted to hear Dylan at his best, this is the CD for you. Highly recommended!
If you like J-Pop (Japanese Pop) music, but are bored of the typical songs that you might hear in the genre, you should give BabyMetal a try. The band consists of three girls - Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal - who sing energetic pop lyrics to a mix of metal, electronic and rock music. The music is catchy and unique, and I guarantee that you'll find yourself humming their songs throughout your day.
I first stumbled across Spoon when their album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga came out. Spoon is one of those few bands where there is hardly a song from them I don't like. I love listening to an album and not having to reach for the "skip" button. Spoon is also a band that in my opinion has evolved their sound successfully with each new album. In Hot Thoughts there are a lot of sounds that haven't been in their previous albums (see songs "Pink Up" & "Us"). They continue to impress with catchy melodies and their unique songwriting.
Released in late 2014, Alpha Mike Foxtrot is truly a great collection for any Wilco fan. With a diverse selection of rare studio and live tracks, the box set is a pleasure from start to finish. There are some interesting covers ranging from artists like Big Star, Steely Dan and Neil Young - as well as totally different recordings of songs from Wilco's album releases.
A new Screaming Females record is always cause for celebration, and their new record All at Once, the sixth in their discography, is no different. Being one of indie rock's most consistent and hardest working acts since 2005, Screaming Females is a trio based out of New Jersey, fronted by the enigmatic Marissa Paternoster. Being 15 tracks in length and having nearly an hour running time, All at Once is one of Screaming Females most ambitious efforts. Stylistically, they play to their strengths of making hard-edged indie rock, but also get a bit more poppy with "I'll Make You Sorry" and experimental on "End Of My Bloodline." It's an album with a lot to dig into and a huge payoff in the amount of great songs that are on display here, which demand repeated listens. Stop sleeping on this band and spin this album as soon as possible.
Lately, I've been returning to the music of my youth, something people seem to do with their thirties on the horizon. When I was seven, my dad gave me my first boombox along with a few cassettes and CDs to call my own -the Sundays, the GoGos and the Bangles. I played these cassettes until the tape gave out or my sister, at the tender age of one, did what I had done to a few of my dad's cassettes: ripped the tape out. The Bangles were one of the go-to soundtracks of my childhood. I was drawn to the darker and deeper songs - "Bell Jar", "Something to Believe in", "Be With You", and "Watching the Sky." While that might say something about me, believe me when I say I knew that cassette back and forth. "In Your Room" was the breakout song off this album, but Everything is worth a full listen.
When embarking on a road trip there are many obstacles for my husband and I. The five kids in the back whining and fighting. What temperature to set the heat at (high for me, low for him). Whose directions to follow, Mapquest or my husband's "never wrong" internal sense of direction. One thing we can agree on, however, is music. Typically, he listens to classic rock, where as I listen to anything but. What could we possibly listen to that we would both enjoy? Eddie Vedder's unique sound on the Into the Wild Soundtrack. Eddie Vedder is the definition of classic rock, being a member of Pearl Jam, but his songs here are beautiful and rare. So next time you find yourself battling over the radio dial, why not give Eddie Vedder's Into the Wild a try?
A reissue of the remixed 1978 tapes, Days of Future Passed by The Moody Blues features great tracks such as "Nights in White Satin" and "The Day Begins." This 180g pressing features crystal clear audio and will sound fantastic on any player. Highly recommend this album and that you grab it now - before the price goes up! If you'd prefer a more original sound look for the repressing of the 1967 recording that was released at the same time as this one (or better yet, find an original pressing through us).
It's been five years since the release of Dessa's last album, Parts of Speech, which I still count as one of my favorite albums of all time. When I heard that Dessa was releasing a new album, I jumped at the chance to pre-order a copy. And I've been listening to nothing else since. Yes, it's that good. While Parts of Speech was introspective and sometimes sad, Chime is sharper, wiser, more honest and extremely timely. Dessa is a master at what she does, and uses every word and every note with precision and poise. Chime is a perfect example of Dessa's prowess, both with music and words.
Coming off the Grateful Dead's 1990 spring tour, you would think Jerry Garcia would want to take a break. Nope. Jerry just wasn't that guy. He got his other band together, traveled to Hawaii and laid it down. The energy is there, the vocals are what you'd hope for and all the band members easily display why Garcia wanted to share the stage with them. Though the setlist is fairly common for a Garcia Band outing, the songs have energy and none are just a walk-through version. Well worth the listen and a respectable addition to the Garcia canon of official releases.
by Composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams (Composer) (1872 - 1958)
A Classic for Fans New and Old
Sir Adrian Boult conducts members of the London Symphony, the London Philharmonic, and the New Philharmonia orchestras in this 1991 collection of some of Ralph Vaughan Williams' most classic works. The album is equally enjoyable for newcomers to Vaughan Williams' repertoire and by those who consider him an old friend. It opens with the "Serenade to Music" (a remastering of the original 1987 recording), featuring soloists from the London Philharmonic. This single-movement work for a small orchestra perfectly captures the composer's aesthetic. It is followed by the three tradition movements of the Folk Song Suite (for orchestra), familiar to many from military band repertoire, performed here by members of the London Symphony. For many listeners, this is the most iconic of Vaughan Williams' music on this album--all the more for its size and unassuming nature. The four tracks that follow the Folk Song Suite are all single-movement tone poems: traditional in their musical language and ideas, but less so in form and development. They are also all remastered recordings from 1987. Of the four, the Norfolk Rhapsody and In the Fen Country are probably the least known to listeners. They have become more well-known in recent years, though they were considered obscure as recently as the late nineties. The Fantasia on Greensleeves is a perennial favorite and demonstrates well the composer's knowledge of old-world counterpoint. The final work, The Lark Ascending, differs from the other tone poems in that it is really a single-movement concerto for violin. The 1987 recording features Hugh Bean as the soloist. The delicacy and finesse of Vaughan William's violin writing are such that this album could end with nothing else, and it is immediately obvious upon listening why the piece has remained popular with audiences and soloists alike. Were I ever famous enough to be featured on the BBC's "Desert Island Discs," this collection would certainly make my list.
by Composer: Gustav Holst (Composer) (1874 - 1934)
A clear, cosmopolitan rendition of a classic
Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony recorded this rendition of Holst's most famous work in 2002. While many less-wise conductors might have tried to somehow put their own stamp on this well-known suite, Davis instead opted for a more hands-off approach. He allows the music to speak for itself through the orchestra, and the London Symphony executes their rendition with the clarity and precision that have been their trademarks for quite a while. To both Davis and the orchestra, Holst's intentions in the music are crystal-clear and need little interpretation. Holst was an accomplished orchestrator and a listener can hear through the recording that the music is a joy for the musicians to play, particularly in the fourth movement. The level of sincerity that Holst achieves in the suite and that Davis and the LSO preserve throughout their rendition make this the Planets recording that I always come back to.
A Day to Remember returns with their 5th studio album, Common Courtesy, bringing back the signature musical style that put them on the map in the first place! With songs that feature both groove-inducing breakdowns and huge, catchy, pop-like choruses, this album is sure to please fans of the pop-punk genre, metal fans and then some due to its unique take on two completely different genres!
Released in 2009, the debut album by Karin Dreijer Andersson - one half of the now sadly defunct electronic duo The Knife - Fever Ray's self-titled album holds up to this day. Where Andersson's work with The Knife veered more towards dance music, this project under the Fever Ray moniker is a much more introspective, nocturnally gorgeous affair. Right from the get go with album opener "If I Had A Heart", with its icy synths and production, this album is ripe with introspection and captivating melodies. This quality remains through the duration of the record, taking listeners through a dark, beautiful listen that will reveal more and more textures with subsequent listens.
Jon Anderson's Olias of Sunhillow was one of my first forays into progressive rock at the age of 11. At first, it was really out there for me. I had never listened to a concept album before, but I was big into science-fiction/fantasy, so it naturally clicked with me. The concept of Olias of Sunhillow: after hearing a distress signal on a distant planet, Olias, the title character, sets to build a ship to rescue those in distress. "To The Runner" remains one of my favorite songs on the album, along with "Meeting (Garden of Gods)/ Sound Out the Galleon". This album might be an acquired taste, requiring multiple listens to discover that it's really a gem. But it's worth giving your full attention.
The Saga Continues is the first Wu joint released in three years and the first ever to not be produced by founding member RZA. Despite both of those facts, it is easily one of their best albums ever. Produced by RZA protg Mathematics, it has the rough, clipped sound of most other Wu albums but with a flow that is clearly Mathematics own. The lyricism is solid, the beats are fresh and if you had told me this album was recorded twenty years ago and then locked away-I would totally believe you. In an era of hip-hop where lots of golden age emcees are putting out new material that isn't always on par with their history-Wu-Tang stays relevant and true to who they are.
Change up the music for your family with a compositional masterpiece.
This album by legendary bassist, composer, and bandleader Charles Mingus is by almost any standard a compositional masterpiece. This record released in 1963 was conceived originally as a ballet divided into 4 movements, ranging in mood from lithe and languidly seductive to fraught with chaotic urgency. It immediately whisks my imagination to a dark, smoky, moody, "film noir" realm where anything can happen if you knock on the right (or wrong) door. The orchestration of the 11 piece band approaches the clarity of Ellington or Miles Davis' "Birth of the Cool" but strays into more aggressive and avant-garde territory with layers of group improvisation, raw instrumental growls, and slippery melodic phrasing. It is a sort of music that makes you wonder which parts were written down and which parts were improvised in the moment, because it all blends together so well creating an extremely unified mood and vibe. I recommend putting this album on with family or a loved one as it does not pretend at all that everything is or will be perfect.
Lou Reed is most known for being the frontman of the legendary Velvet Underground, and after that, for the song "Walk on the Wild Side", which has been a staple of radio and commercials for years and has entered the English Language even for those unfamiliar with the song. But Reed was also an amazing musician and brilliant songwriter, and while none of his more famous songs are on this album, some critics consider this his finest work. If you read the liner notes, Reed suggests listening to the album in one sitting, as the songs tell a story that takes you through a year or so on the streets of New York, where you meet many memorable characters and get a feeling for what it's like to live in the city, among these people. Highly recommended.
The very first time I picked this album up, I found it on vinyl at a Half Price Books store in Bloomingdale. I had never heard of the album and decided to pick it up simply because it was the cheapest Led Zeppelin album available. It ended up being my favorite album by Led Zeppelin and is still. The album is classic Zeppelin, with a wild mix of upbeat and energetic songs.