Hang Loose

Alabama Shakes hit the scene with a bang in 2012 with their album Boys & Girls.

The first time I heard them, I was very impressed. I follow the YouTube channel for Seattle public radio station KEXP, and they posted a great live session of Alabama Shakes. Here’s a link if you want to check it out:

They have a raw bluesy sound that’s not heard in today’s music very much. The track “Hold On” is likely my favorite, and has a lot of fun stuff going on in it. A few other tracks on that album are likewise fun to listen to, such as “Hang Loose” “Rise To the Sun” and “I Ain’t the Same.” I especially like the guitar in “Hang Loose” and the chill swing beats and organ background in “Rise To the Sun.” I received a vinyl copy of the album as a gift a while ago and it sounds great in that format, their style is well suited to the sounds of a vinyl record.

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They released a second album in 2015 which I am less familiar with, aside from the single that gets radio play, “Don’t Want To Fight.” It is a great song, though hearing it too frequently can get a little repetitive for my taste, so I save it for an occasional listen and enjoy it all the more for that.

When I listened to the whole album for this project, I was immediately taken in by the title track “Sound & Color.” They made great use of background details on that track, including some xylophone to give it just the right vibe and strings to build it up in a rich way while maintaining the almost ethereal (for them) effect of the song.  It’s actually quite nice to listen to that song and immediately follow up with track #2, “Don’t Want To Fight”

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The rest of the album, while pretty good, didn’t hold my attention too much. That was likely due to inattention on my part while listening, so I’ll have to go back and listen again sometime.

All in all, I like them. Not my favorite band (though I’m not sure I could say that I have a favorite anyway), but fun to listen to. If given the opportunity to see them live, I would maybe take it depending on ticket price.

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Changing

And it starts sometime around midnight.

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The Airborne Toxic Event is a fantastic band. Truly, they are awesome to listen to. I am so very glad for this project, or I may have been stuck only ever listening to their radio hits. I am sure most of you know the song “Sometime Around Midnight”, which is really an amazing song and deserves all the radio play it gets. Honestly, I love how that song just keeps on building throughout the whole thing, starting with the strings and working it’s way to add 2 guitar lines, drums which just get more and more awesome, bass, etc, etc. It also tells a very visual story that follows the build up, and I do have a bit of a soft spot for narrative songs. Bonus points for this one being told in second person perspective.

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You may also know a couple of their other songs which have come out since, such as “All I Ever Wanted”, and “Changing” Their first big hit came from their debut self-titled album, the latter two from their sophomore release All At Once. 

Like I mentioned before, I am very glad this project spurred me on to listen to their stuff more in depth. It’s all awesome. They have a great sound in general, but more than that they aren’t afraid to change things up. Quite a few of their songs are your typical guitar-drums-bass-maybe keys. But they also have a habit of including string quartets for a more orchestral sound. This is evident in the beginning of “Sometime Around Midnight” but more so in “All I Ever Wanted”and some of the deeper cuts.

In fact, they did an entire live album featuring The Calder Quartet that was quite good. I don’t always like listening to live albums, but this one was pretty good.

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Similarly, I don’t typically listen to album or track commentaries, but I did for their album Such Hot Blood and it was actually kind of nice to get a little more insight into the creative process and meaning behind some of their songs. I don’t think I’ll listen to the commentary again, but I liked it anyway.

One more thing I liked: along with their most recent album Dope Machines they also released another album the following day, Sons of God and Whiskey. While Dope Machines stays true to their typical sound (if a little more synthesized) Sons of God and Whiskey is an acoustic album, with some really fantastic tracks. I am especially a fan of “Poor Isaac” and “A Certain Type Of Girl”

Go listen to The Airborne Toxic Event. Aside from having a great band name, they have a great sound that crosses over genre lines and they have pretty good lyrics.

That’s all for now, peace out!

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Squealing Pigs

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Admiral Fallow is quite obviously Scottish, so here’s a picture of Scotland. Some bands you can’t hear any native accent at all, but not this one. The moment the lead singer opens his mouth it is completely obvious, and I like it. In fact, I like their style quite a bit.

I don’t remember when I first heard them, which is weird, but I do remember liking them enough to recommend them to other people.

I have listened to all 3 of their albums, and I think I prefer their second album, Tree Bursts In Snow, the best. For their songs that just don’t seem to speak to me, there is a kind of legato feel, which can be very cool, but can get a little boring after a while. It’s their songs that have a little more drive in them that makes them stand out

Here is a list of my favorite tracks for your perusal: “The Paper Trench”, “Squealing Pigs”,  “Guest of the Government”, “Brother”, “The Way You Were Raised”, and “Subbuteo”

Here’s a link to their music video for “Paper Trench” for you since it’s my favorite song of theirs.

Well, I honestly don’t have much else to say. They are a good band, and I enjoy listening to my favorite tracks from them. The end.

Right As Rain

Story time!

Before she took over pop radio with her second album, I was maybe peripherally aware of Adele. Meaning I had heard a couple of her songs (“Chasing Pavements” and “Hometown Glory”) but didn’t know who she was. One morning I was driving into work listening to the local community radio station like the hipster I am when a song came on that hit home with me. You know how some songs you just have to finish listening to before you can get out of the car? Yeah, this was one of those. I remember being surprised and slightly blown away at the rich and heavy tones and drums through the repetitive phrases in “Rumor Has It”, and just sitting in the car listening spell bound. I really liked that song, and anytime I heard it on that station I always turned the volume up. I still have that vivid memory of the first time I heard that song and how much I loved it.

Lo and behold pop radio picked her up shortly after that and after a while she got a little overplayed for my tastes. Curse you, Top 40 radio!

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Anyway, after she got popular from her album 21, I looked her up on Youtube and really loved her video for “Rolling In The Deep”, you should check it out:

Adele has only 3 albums out, but she has been very popular since her second album came out, though many of you know her hit “Chasing Pavements” from the first album, 19.

Fun Fact! Her albums are named after how old she was when she released them (or recorded them, I’m not exactly sure). I can’t say for sure, but one of the reasons I like her might be because she and I are pretty close to the same age.

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All in all, she’s pretty impressive. She’s a good song writer, even if she seems to have a penchant for break-up songs especially, and she has great control of a rather striking voice. And she made an absolutely fantastic James Bond theme with “Skyfall”. Though I never actually saw that movie I was a fan of the song. Bonus points to her for winning an Academy Award with that song. Not that that’s the only award she’s received for her music. I mean just look at those Grammies!

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So I guess the moral of this story is Adele is a great musician. You don’t have to like all of her songs (a lot of them are pretty sad) but you should maybe look a little deeper into her stuff. I think my favorite track of all would be “Right As Rain” followed by “Rolling In The Deep” (I mean, really, that music video was rad!).

Bonus joke! I love this joke, I tell it all the time.

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And because I found too many good memes, here’s some more for your enjoyment.

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Don’t Turn Around

All I can think of when I hear something like Ace of Base (very much early 90’s europop) is just how hokey it is. That might not be quite the right word… oh well. But that is likely because of my age (born in ’89). Ah well, I still enjoy a couple of their hit singles on occasion. Rare occasion. Obviously I must like it enough to have it on my Spotify, but that might just be childhood memories talking.

When I turned on this artist for this I was surprised and kind of annoyed to find so. Many. Remixes.

Not even good ones. I’ll be honest, I didn’t make it through all of the songs for Ace of Base; their particular style just does not do it for me. And the fact that there are apparently albums worth of remixes each dedicated to just one song gets kind of hard to listen to after a while.

The songs I like are most likely ones other people are familiar with. Unless under the age of 20. The songs in question are “Don’t Turn Around”, “All That She Wants”and of course “The Sign“. 

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Pitch Perfect kind of ruined that last one for me though. If you’ve seen that movie, you know what I’m talking about. I liked the movie, because it is ridiculous and fun, but you know how one song can get overplayed on the radio, and over the course of a week or two you can get really sick of it cause you hear it so often? Pitch Perfect accomplished that feeling maybe half an hour into the movie. Hats off to them for that feat; now please never do that to me again. I can barely stand to listen to “The Sign” for more than a minute now.

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Ultimately, I don’t much care for Ace of Base as a whole. Kind of sad to say, but that’s the truth. None of their other songs mean anything to me, and it’s likely the only reason I like the ones I mentioned is they were around while I was growing up.

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Well, you can’t win them all. I guess I’ll stick with what I know on this one.

Rock Or Bust

In the beginning, back in nineteen fifty five
Man didn’t know about a rock ‘n’ roll show and all that jive
The white man had the smoltz, the black man had the blues
No one knew what they was gonna do
But Tchaikovsky had the news
He said:

Let there be sound, and there was sound
Let there be light, and there was light
Let there be drums, and there was drums
Let there be guitar, and there was guitar
Let there be rock

And it came to pass that Rock and Roll was born

If you don’t know AC/DC, go educate yourself. Now.

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This band wrote some of the most iconic rock to come out of… ever. Seriously, so good. This is high energy, head-banging, air-guitar jamming, blaring in the car, awesome music. I mean, seriously, I would all but die to go to an AC/DC show, and I am insanely jealous of anyone who has. They are still touring, I’m pretty sure. They don’t have any shows listed right now, but they had live shows last year; that’s more than 4 decades of performing, and severely impressive.

When I started listening to their stuff for this project, I knew the singles mostly. And that’s great, nothing wrong with that. But then a track would come on, and my response was frequently either “holy crap, this song is amazing, how come I didn’t know it before?!” or “wait, this song is AC/DC too?”

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I am positive anyone reading this blog have heard many of their songs in movies or on the radio and didn’t realize it, even if you are a fan. The Iron Man movies wouldn’t have been nearly as good without the soundtrack which heavily features AC/DC. I mean, anything backed with the opening chords and drums from “Back In Black” is automatically awesome. And everybody loves Megamind, it had a very clever use of the song “Highway to Hell” (though to be honest, the scene near the climax with “Welcome To The Jungle” by Guns’nRoses was my favorite)

I don’t know all the words to all of these songs, but anytime it comes on, I just have to crank it up and bust out my best air guitar.

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This is great jam music. It’s also great working music, and is definitely on my work playlists. If I started going to the gym again (and decided not to listen to podcasts) this might be on that playlist as well. It really gets your heart pumping, and makes you want to tackle whatever you’ve got to do head on.

I had the opportunity to play an 80’s themed dance with a former band once, and we made sure to add “T.N.T.” onto our setlist (regardless if it was technically from the 70’s). So much fun!

So the moral of the story is go listen to AC/DC right now. You’re welcome. And for those about to rock: I salute you.

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P.S. If you don’t already know and are curious, the name AC/DC comes from the two common types of electrical current. It’s an abbreviation of alternating current/direct current. A fitting name for a band with such high energy.

Against the Odds of Entropy

9 Theory is one of those bands I only knew one song from and didn’t know anything about.

It’s kind of hard to describe the sound right. The facebook page for him describes it as electronic/hip-hop/indie. I suppose that’s about as accurate as you can be with genre labels. It is definitely electronic, though far, far away from dubstep or house, and it has a bit of hip-hop thrown in on occasion between the audio samples. As for indie, I guess that’s what tempers the other two in such a relaxed and unique way.

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I am a fan of mellow music. Seriously, I love easy background music: not stagnant, but not driving either; no harsh out of place bass drops or long and loud solos. Now that’s not to say I dislike those things, in fact I like them quite a bit. To every thing there is a season (turn, turn, turn), and all that. But often I work better or relax a little easier if there is something chill playing in the background. Bonus points if that chill thing has a cool message or thought behind it. And the song “At Home In The Dark” hits all the right points for me there.

I first heard this on KOHS, the local high school radio station, and anytime it came on I enjoyed it, especially the audio samples mixed in. It took me a few listens to figure out what was being said, but I really liked it when I did: “A wise man once said, an error doesn’t become a mistake until you refuse to correct it” Pretty cool statement if you ask me, and a great message for this song.

So, as you can probably guess I was pretty excited to listen to more of his stuff when I started this little project of mine. And all in all, I was pleased with what I found.

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However I didn’t add any of his other songs to my Spotify account. “Why not if you liked it so much” you ask? Because it really is far too chill to listen attentively to for more than one song at a time. It is the perfect background music, and whenever I had it on the songs blended together as I did whatever else I was doing at the time so that I couldn’t really identify specific tracks I liked. If I had given it more time (I really should at some point) that would probably change.

So, do I recommend 9 Theory? Absolutely, but be picky about the setting. Pretty sure I’ll pick it for the next time I want to just relax.

What’s Up?

Okay, firstly, how 90’s is this picture? For real.

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Just look at it. Gazing off apathetically into the middle distance. Cloudy painted backdrop. Dreadlocks. The one dude who actually kind of looked at the camera but isn’t in the foreground. Baggy clothes of thrift store style. Pretty sure the guy on the left is stoned… 90’s

Secondly, for a band with only one album and only one hit, 4 Non Blondes rock. Now, I know, I know: a lot of you probably hate her voice. It is very unique, and pretty rough, but I think she really owns it. I love when singers really own the unique sound of their voice (check out the Mountain Goats). And honestly, the way she does it is way fun to sing along with in a non entirely angst-y way (Yet still a little angst-y since you kind of have to gargle your voice a bit). I dare you to blare “What’s Up?” in your car and NOT sing along. Go on, try it.

Have any of you heard any of their other songs besides “What’s Up”?  Some of them are pretty dang rad. As you may know, I am a bass player (primarily, anyway) so if there is a good bass line in a song I probably pick it out. Gotta say, I love their bass lines, they can be kinda funky. Especially on the track “Superfly”, you should check it out.

So, my review? 4 Non Blondes know what’s going on. Good band, I’m glad I was able to add their songs to my list.

My only remaining question? What on earth was the 90’s love of weird hats? I mean seriously, just look at this:

This is all the same person… and these are all really big hats…

Title of the Song

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So here’s the deal: I started a kind of stupid/crazy way to explore my music. Any of y’all have Spotify? Probably most of you. I have, over the last several months, been adding lots of things to my music collection there, and honestly it’s been a great way to have everything in one place. I’m a big fan.

Long story short (sorry, I tend to tell long stories a lot… you’ll have to get used to that), I decided to listen to all of the artists I have listed in my Spotify in alphabetical order. Except I’m not just listening to the songs I have, I’m listening to each artists entire library of music. Everything. Seriously, this is gonna take close to two years. At least.

Now let’s be clear, this is not the only way I’ll be listening to music this year. That would drive me crazy for sure.

Since I am going alphabetically by artist I’ll be jumping genres, bouncing around everywhere from jazz to rock to bluegrass and everything in between.

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Wanna know when I started this project? Early December. Wanna know how far along I am? I’m still in the middle of letter “A”

So, as I progress I will share tidbits I learn and cool deep cut tracks I never knew before, as well as thoughts on artists I just don’t like more than the singles. Because, let’s be honest, there is a lot of music out there and some of it is transcendental, some of it is just really dumb.

The next few posts will be to catch you guys up with where I am (currently I am listening to the Andrews Sisters). Feel free to listen along, though I’m pretty sure I’m the only person I know weird enough to take on a venture like this. Also feel free to share your thoughts on what I post as well as give me good suggestions on other things I haven’t listened to! I am always (evidently) on the look out for more music.

So happy listening! Hope you like my adventures in music.

~Sarah

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P.S. I will be hiding a few lyrics and band references throughout my posts. All Post titles are song titles (even this one), usually from the artist featured in the post. Anyone who picks out those bits gets 200 Sarah Music Points(TM)! (All Sarah Music Points(TM) are not redeemable and are in fact useless)

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