Tag Archives: The Beatles

50 States, 50 Artists, 50 Songs

Alabama

Alabama Shakes- “Hold On”

Alaska

Volcano Choir- “Alaskans”

Arizona

The Beatles- “Get Back”

Arkansas

Of Montreal- “Little Rock

California

Foxygen- “San Francisco”

Colorado

Bob Dylan- “Man of Constant Sorrow”

Connecticut

Superchunk- “Connecticut

Delaware

Continue reading 50 States, 50 Artists, 50 Songs

The Full Picture: The Black Keys

Probably the most necessary of the Full Picture articles that I’ve written so far, what’s becoming a forgotten history for The Black Keys is that they were a very significant act earlier in their career as part of the blues-rock music scene. The band’s always been a duo of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, and this article is going to try and look at their rise to national prominence and point out just how their sound evolved to allow that to happen. This whole process starts back in 2002 when they released their debut album named The Big Come Up

The Black Keys- The Big Come Up (2002)
The Black Keys- The Big Come Up (2002)

The debut might surprise you if you’ve never heard it before in how raw the sound is, but it gives you a good idea about the roots of the band. The style is straight-forward for the listener, which is more the result of a two-person band than anything else, and it has a strong blues-rock feel to it for sure. That’s to say that while the guitar doesn’t have an overly-complicated role in the song it’s still got a prominent role on every track, and the songs themselves don’t get overly focused on choruses. Tracks progress naturally to tell a story, and that’s something which defines the early Black Keys tracks very well. There’s more attention placed on the instruments than the later work which is a nice change up for listening to them, but they also improved a lot after this album so other earlier works end up defining the band better. They’re cover of “She Said, She Said” is fantastic though.

Track Picks: “She Said, She Said“, “I’ll Be Your Man“, “Brooklyn Bound

The Black Keys- Thickfreakness (2003)
The Black Keys- Thickfreakness (2003)

A terrific album from the group which meant a lot for them getting attention as a premiere Blues-rock group and showed that the sound on The Big Come Up wasn’t a band which struck gold once. Auerbach’s vocals right from the start of the title track are nearly indiscernible in a classic blues-rock sense, and the band’s guitar dominated style seemed to benefit a lot from the band’s label switch to Fat Possum Records. The Black Keys were a young band that was playing energetic-guitar music and had a cool-vibe attached to them which was hard to argue against, and began to grow a good sized fan base because of this. Once again my favorite track on this album’s a cover as the group did a take on the classic Sonics song (and originally Richard Berry) “Have Love, Will Travel” and knocked it out of the park in the process.

Track Picks: “Have Love, Will Travel“, “Set You Free“, “Hurt Like Mine

The Black Keys- Rubber Factory (2004)
The Black Keys- Rubber Factory (2004)

Rubber Factory gets it’s title because it marks a change in the recording environment, as the band shifted out of Patrick Carney’s basement and into an old abandoned rubber factory for the sessions. When you read that you’d expect a larger change in sound then what actually translates to the album though, as the different acoustics and stylistic approach don’t seem to make to much of an indent on the actual recorded sound surprisingly. A good album which marks the first time the group ever charted, but probably best to re-visit for singles more than the whole product. Once again I’m a big fan of a cover song on this album in “Act Nice and Gentle” which was originally done by The Kinks, a huge stylistic difference but one that again ends up working beautifully well for the group, something that speaks volumes about their taste in music in my opinion. “The Lengths” deserves mention here too because it isn’t often mentioned as one of the group’s premiere songs, but I love their slower and sadder material and that track is one of the best examples I can give of why. The song is a really sentimental and emotional listen which is what the blues is supposed to be all about, and it’s a treat to listen to.

Top Tracks: “Act Nice and Gentle“, “The Lengths“, “All Hands Against His Own
Continue reading The Full Picture: The Black Keys

Album Reviews: Destroyer, The Head & the Heart, Shearwater

Five Spanish Songs

Destroyer- Five Spanish Songs EP

Grade: B+
Release Date: 11/29/2013

Five Spanish Songs doesn’t contain any new Destroyer songs, rather it’s entirely composed of covers of a spanish artist named Sr. Chinarro. The purpose of the EP is to be a gesture of respect and market Sr. Chinarro’s music to an audience who otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to them in likelihood, and it proves to indeed be very fun and melodic. The opener “Maria de las Nieves” is a soft and paced track which showcases extremely calm, narrative vocals by Dan Bejar (a member of the New Pornographers, it often gets forgotten in the U.S. how successful these musicians are outside of the supergroup). “El Rito” is the most fun and danceable one on the EP and a personal favorite, and the closer “Bye Bye” is a slower, soft and thoughtful track. Of course all of this is solely based off of the sound of the music and the manner in which the lyrics are stated because by all accounts the spanish courses I attended during schooling were unsuccessful in creating a fluent speaker out of me, and the title of this EP isn’t just an homage to what was translated. That’s probably for the better as some songs can lose their beauty in the process of translation (and some can become hysterical, like “Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand“), but it’s still frustrating to listen to a line and only be able to recognize the words “Franz Kafka”. Still, this is a very good listen that I recommend listening to even if you don’t understand the lyrics, because good music can be universal.

Track Pick: “El Rito”

Let's Be Still

The Head and the Heart- Let’s Be Still

Grade: C+

Release Date: 10/15/2013

The main word that come to mind is generic. Folk rock seems like a plague in the modern music scene with artists like Mumford & Sons (now on hiatus) and Of Monsters & Men actually rising to national attention with it. I don’t intend to point to those two as examples of poor artists, but I’m a believer that they are artists who got over glorified for an enjoyable but unspectacular sound. The Head and the Heart struggle on this album struggle to bring up interesting topics and consistently seem to end up writing about clichés over basic rhythms. Simplicity can be beautiful in music when used correctly, but we’re at the point where it’s the last thing which there’s a need for within the genre, and it would be sad to see folk rock become redefined in the same unfortunate way that country music has grown to be.

Track Pick: “Homecoming Heroes”

Fellow Travelers
Shearwater- Fellow Travelers

Grade: B-
Release Date: 10/08/2013

The second release in this batch of reviews which is composed of covers, with Fellow Travelers it’s difficult to even tell though. The band set their eyes on songs by Xiu Xiu, Coldplay, St. Vincent and Wye Oak among others, but they don’t really bring the band to a place where they’re easy to relate to at any point. There’s a level of respect from me for the band’s continued attempt to be meaningful and write sadder, softer songs, but the songs have to differ more than they do. This seemed like a prime opportunity to do that with the range of artists they covered, but they all still ultimately blend into each other within the same Shearwater sound that’s been frustrating myself and other listeners on their recent releases. You can sense the talent of people in the project, but I would say they’d be better off separated from each other so that they could try to find other artists to work with, ones who would do a better job of highlighting their strengths and hiding their weaknesses.

Track Pick: “Tomorrow”

Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 50-41

Here are numbers 50-41 on my countdown of my 100 favorite songs.

50. Animal Collective- The Purple Bottle

“Sometimes your quiet and/ Sometimes I’m quiet/ Hallelujah!”

This one can interpreted two ways. For one, it’s an absolutely gorgeous song about falling in love with someone and having everything seem to be magically right. It’s the idealism which Animal Collective specializes in focused on David Portner(Avey Tare)’s relationship with Kría Brekkan, and it captures the absolute joy of believing you have found the perfect person. I like to view the song this way because even if songs last the test of time, their ultimate context has to be viewed in terms of when the song was originally released. I say this because Portner and Brekkan ended up having a divorce, which could change your perception from this being one of the most beautiful love songs out there into an absolutely tragic piece about what was lost. This is one of few songs that I choose to take the optimistic route on though, and I always smile when “The Purple Bottle” comes on.

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49. The Beatles- She Said She Said

“I know what it’s like to be dead

I came so damn close to becoming one of those guys who stopped listening to the Beatles once he listened to alternative music, but “She Said She Said” saved me. Someone who approached John Lennon started to talk to him about the nonsense in their mind where he had a picture for what Lennon must be based upon how his music had effected his life, and Lennon had to let him know that he wasn’t that person. It’s such a quick and standard Beatles song but I adore it because of the feeling of obligation to tell people that you’re not the person they think you are upon introduction, and because Revolver is really an early influential album for the alternative rock scene.

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48. Neutral Milk Hotel- Two Headed Boy (Part Two)

“When we break we’ll wait for our miracle/ God is a place you will wait for the rest of your life.”

My love for Neutral Milk Hotel is a bit awkward because Mangum is drastically more confident in religion than me . Mangum presents a perspective which shows that he not only believes in a god but that he’s confident that what that god does will be just, and thus the Two-Headed Boy will wake from this life to learn that he has been rewarded for the pain that he endured on the Earth, and that will last for the remainder of time. It’s not something I actually believe in, but hearing Mangum sing it is so beautiful that you find yourself praying for it to be true so there can be a happy ending, and because within that line of thinking a new possibility becomes available; Mangum meeting Anne Frank.

Continue reading Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 50-41

Tame Impala

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Band: Tame Impala

Album: Lonerism

Label: Modular Recordings

The Australian psychedelic rock band Tame Impala is back with their second album, two years after their previous release of Innerspeaker.  Their unique sound of psych guitar riffs and echoing vocals brings a style of old school  meets new.  A modern album that would appeal to fans of the Pink Floyd and late 60’s early 70’s rock era, but with a fresh dreamy take.  Singer and songwriter, Kevin Parker, brings a haunting voice similar to John Lennon–and when I say similar I mean a straight reincarnation.  Tracks such as “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” and “Be Above It” give off Beatles inspired vibes, while “Elephant” and “Mind Mischief” delivers a heavier “stoner rock” feel.  The 57 second track “She Just Won’t Believe Me” even reminds me of a lighter version to Ozzy Osbournes’s intro in “Mr. Crowley.”
Continue reading Tame Impala