My Top 10 Favorite Albums Of 2011

As much as I hate to admit it…I’m not as into buying albums as I once was. It’s so much easier now with ITunes and other music outlets to simply pick & choose singles and a lot of times I would rather spend a dollar or two on a couple of songs rather than spend $12 on an entire album online. Shopping for music isn’t the same as it was 5 years ago and that is unfortunate. I used to really enjoy shopping for CD’s at the local music shop but those days seem to be gone now. It takes too much time and I haven’t got a few hours to waste going through bargain bins and racks of $20 CDs. So…I am sad to say that I don’t buy as many albums as I used to. But there were a few this year that I made the trip out to the store to get because I wanted the physical copy of it and so…without further adieu…here are my Top 10 favorite albums of 2011!

10. Teddybears – “Devil’s Music”
This Swedish band knows how to make you move your butt. From the opening track, they hit you with techno beats and silly lyrics that are just fun. And with a slew of artists making appearances (from The Flaming Lips to Cee Lo Green), they leave no beat unturned.

Favorite Tracks: Rocket Scientist, Devil’s Music

9. Foo Fighters – “Wasted Light”
From the opening track, David Grohl & company hit you with solid left hooks and slamming guitars and they have made another incredible rock album. It’s almost to the point now where you would think Grohl would phone in an album or two but when it comes to rocking out, there’s no one that can put together the melodies with the metal like the Foo.

Favorite Tracks: Bridge Burning, Rope, These Days

8. Social Distortion – “Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes”
7 years came and went between their 2004 album “Sex, Love and Rock N Roll” and this one but it was worth the wait! With their bluesy rock still as fresh as when they rolled it out of California in 1983, Mike Ness leads the way on this jam packed album. Solid from start to finish, it’s kind of refreshing that my favorite track on the album is actually a slower song.

Favorite Tracks: Bakersfield, California Hustle & Flow, Machine Gun Blues

7. Beastie Boys – “Hot Sauce Committee Part 2”
If ever there needed to be a return to their roots, The Beasties picked the perfect time. After a few overproduced albums and one cancer scare, Committee is a return to the glory days of chest thumpin’ and party bumpin’ of “You Gotta Fight For Your Right (To Party)”. Hooks and wicked beats pepper this album and it’s hard not to get motivated when you got this album boomin’ in your system.

Favorite Tracks: Here’s A Little Something For Ya, Don’t Play no Game I Can’t Win, Make Some Noise

6. Blue October – “Any Man In America”
I don’t know what to say about this album other than it is honest in every way. With his marriage falling apart, lead singer Justin Furstenfeld dove into his art and came out with one of the most curious and angry albums I have ever heard. The key is listening to it in its entirety as it goes from the beginning to the end of the relationship and where it stands, we’re not sure. But it sure is a fascinating journey.

Favorite Tracks: The Honesty, The Follow Through, You Waited Too Long

5. Gotye – “Making Mirrors”
Not gonna lie…I haven’t had this album very long. It came out in August but I just recently discovered it when it appeared on ITunes as a “selection I might like.” And man…I really do! It’s quirky and poppy and has all kinds of loops and whisperings and…well…you get the point. Wally De Backer is a unique talent and this album showcases his ability to find the perfect hook to go with his unique style.

Favorite Tracks: Eyes Wide Open, Save Me, No Easy Way Out, Somebody That I Used To Know

4. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
The half of Oasis that is known for writing the music continues to do so and he does it so well. This album is chock full of soaring guitars, Beatle-esque hooks and the famous Gallagher attitude.With brother Liam leading the charge for the rock band “Beady Eye,” Noel stays true to his roots and puts together a classic that I’ll be listening to for a very long time.

Favorite Tracks: Record Machine, AKA…What A Life, (Stranded On) The Wrong Beach

3. David Nail – “Sound Of A Million Dreams”
If there is one thing I love about country music, it’s that it can be familiar and yet new all at the same time. Taking a page from the Glen Campbell handbook, Nail has that smooth country croon that makes everything he sings about seem like it could be happening at this very moment. It could be love, it could be heartbreak, it could be a fleeting moment in time. But whatever it is, it grabs my attention and I can’t stop listening, wondering what will happen next. This will undoubtedly be one of my favorite country albums of all-time. Granted, only time will tell. But I enjoy ALL of the songs on this album and it’s damn near perfect in it’s pop country way.

Favorite Tracks: She Rides Away, That’s How I’ll Remember You, Let It Rain, I Thought You Knew

2. Black Keys – “El Camino”
There’s not a hotter rock band in the world right now than these guys. Straight outta my neck of the woods (Akron, OH is maybe 2 hours from my hometown), The Keys have won several Grammys and this highly anticipated 7th release was everything I hoped it would be. With fuzzy guitars and thumping drums, this album can only be played loud or it’s just not being played correctly. And the fact that it sounds like it’s straight from a 70’s porn flick gives it all that more street cred.

Favorite Tracks: Lonely Boy, Gold On The Ceiling, Money Maker

1. R.E.M. – “Collapse Into Now”
My world was rocked when one of my favorite bands of all-time called it quits earlier this year…but I totally understand. They’ve been together for almost 30 years and each member has other interests outside of the band so it makes sense. And it is only fitting that they call it a day with this album. Sounding almost like a collection of greatest hits that spanned their careers, this album, the 15th studio album in their collection, is far and away one of their best since drummer Bill Berry left the band in 1997. I am hoping that there are hundreds of new tracks in a vault somewhere that will be released over time however if that’s not the case, then this album is a classic that R.E.M. should be very proud to leave us with.

Favorite Tracks: It Happened Today, Oh My Heart, Discoverer, Mine Smell Like Honey, That Someone Is You, Blue

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Social Distortion’s “Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes”


I wouldn’t say I’m a die-hard Social D fan but I have followed their career from a distance, enjoying quite a few of their classic songs (Bad Luck, 99 To Life, Down On The World Again). After checking out THIS early nominee for Best Album of 2011, I might need to pay closer attention. I realize it’s only January, but I HAVE to imagine this one is gonna be burning up my CD player (yeah…I STILL have one in my car) for quite a while and I hope it gets some respect next year at the Grammys!

If you’ve never heard the bluesy rock of Social D, it’s what you’d expect from a band with the name “Social Distortion.” Hard rockin’, hard rollin’, blues rock from…California? Yep…and it’s damn good blues rock too. Lead singer Mike Ness’ gravelly vocals and heavy guitars have been the sound of this band since 1978, and they haven’t changed much. The one thing that has changed is the insightful lyrics that have infiltrated this album. Living the rock n roll lifestyle is never easy (or so they say), and Ness and the boys aren’t necessarily living the dream. But what they ARE doing is making some great old fashioned rock that has always been straight from the hip, and this album is no different.

They lead off with the album with an instrumental track, “Road Zombie”, that rocks with a driving beat and a guitar frenzy and from there the album never really lets up. You have instant anthems “Machine Gun Blues”, “Far Side Of Nowhere” and “Still Alive.” And you have rockers like “Gimme The Sweet Lowdown” & the Hank Williams cover of “Alone & Foresaken.”

For me though, the real treat of “Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes” are the rock ballads that speck the album. You can feel Ness’ pain when he sings about the end of a relationship in “Writing On The Wall” and the beautiful “Bakersfield” is the highlight of the album, with it’s slow jam, smoky bar feel. And when Ness sings to his girl (he’s stranded in Vegas and she’s millions of miles away), you feel for him. And I can understand that feeling…which might be why I love this song so much.

The only track that doesn’t really stand out for me is “Can’t Take It With You,” which is a little repetitive in the chorus and grows old after a while. But even that isn’t a detriment in what is a stellar return from a band that has paid its dues. 7 years has been WAY too long to wait for this new edition to their collection but trust me when I tell you…it fits right in perfectly and might very well be the classic album that we’ve always known they had in ’em.

Tunes From ITunes_1.18.11 (Welcome To The New Year!)


We’re SO happy to be relevant!!!

2011.

Really? Already? Needless to say, I haven’t been on here much and I have been slacking as far as my little music blog here is concerned. Unfortunately, after the holidays, there’s really not a lot to talk about. Most of the good stuff has been released and the music industry goes into it’s long winter slumber. And considering the credit card bill for Christmas has arrived, there’s not much I can afford to buy anyways. But I think I’ve got a few tracks here that can liven up your winter blahs & your credit card blues. Here’s a look at some tuneage that should get your butt shakin’ and your ears quakin’!!! (I coulda been on the radio, doncha know…)

James Blunt – “These Are The Words” (pop)
Blunt has a distinct croon and this power pop song is perfect for the radio. Will it make it to the Top 50? Who knows (or cares) but I like this song. A little more uptempo for him and I like the lyrics.

The Limousines – “Internet Killed The Video Star” (electropop)
Oh come on now…you KNEW eventually this song was gonna have to happen. I just find it amusing that it was a no-name band that finally did it. Who are the Limousines? Well…they’re from San Francisco and they  released an album last year that included the song “Flaskaboozendancingshoes.” Good stuff…and I like the play on the old Buggles song even if this song sounds nothing like THAT historic track.

Toby Keith – “Bullets In The Gun” (country)
Has Toby gone U2 on me? Because THIS track is awesome and sounds like it could be HUGE in concert. LOVE the guitar and the story is classic country. LOVE it!

Edward Maya – “Stereo Love” (electronica)
This song has been stuck in my head and bouncing around for weeks. Seriously…if this song was any catchier you’d have to go to the doctor to get  a prescription.

Cee Lo Green – “Cry Baby” (r&b)
His “FU” song gets all the airplay but this is a gem and I’d LOVE to hear it on pop radio! I expect to see this album winning a bunch of Grammy’s…

Jon Hopkns – “Candles” (instrumental)
Featured in my favorite film of 2011, “Monsters”, this track is subtle and relaxing. And lately I’ve been needing more of that. So I downloaded it…and it’s beautiful.

Cage The Elephant – “Around My Head” (alternative)
A one-hit wonder? Probably not. “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked” is a classic but from what I heard of this new album, called “Thank You Happy Birthday,” this Bowling Green, KY band is gonna be around for a long time. This was a freebie on ITunes a couple of weeks ago and I really dig it!

Young The Giant – “My Body” (rock)
With a slow guitar grind, this little rocker builds to a nice boil then assaults you! Another freebie and well worth the price I paid for it but if you didn’t get it, you’re missing out!

Social Distortion – “Machine Gun Blues” & “”California (Hustle & Flow)” (rock)
Classic rockers from a classic rock band. This band has been around since the mid-80’s and there’s a reason why: They are an awesome live act and they know where their money comes from. Tradition rock/blues tracks like these only enhance their already packed greatest hits lineup. Pick up the entire new album called “Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes.” You can’t go wrong.

Ra Ra Riot – “Too Dramatic” (alt-pop)
I’m not sure what drew me into this band or this song but it’s poppy and has a cool backbeat so I kinda dig it!

Duran Duran – “All You Need Is Now” (alt-pop)
Welcome back, D2! This has a weird intro that is typical of this band and I hear the new album is a return to their roots. If this song is any indication, it probably has several tracks that will remind you of their glory days and is a return to “Rio” which is a good thing!

Duran Duran – “Sin Of The City” (alt-pop)
Speaking of Duran Duran, listening to their new single made me wanna listen to some of their older stuff and this track off their 1993 “Wedding Album” is a bonus track that isn’t offered for sale on ITunes. It’s a great track that went unnoticed and if you happen to have that album you should revisit this track. It’s great!

Great Lake Swimmers – “She Comes To Me In Dreams” (alternative)
A tradition 80’s alt-sound that goes down great with a cup of coffee. I imagine I got this one from Starbucks or someplace and I like it!

Cross Canadian Ragweed – “Alabama” (country)
Released in 2004, a close friend of mine turned me onto this song and I love it. Great country rock track and the lyrics speak of a long distance love that burns brightly.

Hedley – “Scream” (pop)
This could be Hanson or any other pop boy band out there but I kinda like this song. Good workout track.

CLASSIC OLDIE OF THE WEEK: Joe Jackson – “I’m The Man”  (alt-rock)
If there ever was a question of Jackson’s influence (or Elvis Costello for that matter), check out this classic track that is a great memory of the way music used to be made. I would love to see him perform this one in concert!  And it’s also a great workout song…

DON’T BOTHER UNLESS YOU WANT YOUR EARS TO BLEED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Band From TV – “Hoggin’ All The Covers”
Seriously? This is karaoke at it’s absolute WORST. Apparently this is a band that is made up of actors from your favorite tv shows (not mine) and the proceeds go to charity, but this is TERRIBLE! I listened to a few snippets and my head started to hurt and my knees got weak. Whatever you do…do NOT download any of this drivel. It’s horrible and whoever is responsible for releasing it should be shot. Just send your money to the charity itself and save your ears from the hate.