I used to love Kings of Leon, then I sort of lost interest, but after seeing them at MSG the other night I’ve been won back over. I look at them the same way I look at Foo Fighters. Nothing extraordinary, but they know how to write catchy as fuck rock songs that don’t just feel like complete pandering (even if they are). And they are a fantastic live band. ‘Mechanical Bull’ is a great mix of the grit of their early records with the made-for-arenas of their last two.
MUST LISTEN TRACK: I have a soft spot for ‘Family Tree’ for some reason
Spotify: Kings Of Leon – Mechanical Bull (Deluxe Version)

I used to love Kings of Leon, then I sort of lost interest, but after seeing them at MSG the other night I’ve been won back over. I look at them the same way I look at Foo Fighters. Nothing extraordinary, but they know how to write catchy as fuck rock songs that don’t just feel like complete pandering (even if they are). And they are a fantastic live band. ‘Mechanical Bull’ is a great mix of the grit of their early records with the made-for-arenas of their last two.

MUST LISTEN TRACK: I have a soft spot for ‘Family Tree’ for some reason

Spotify: Kings Of Leon – Mechanical Bull (Deluxe Version)


It always takes me a few songs to get acclimated to older recordings, but nobody sucks me into their era faster than Hanks Williams. I’ve never done too much research on his proper albums for some reason, so this is a two disc compilation called ‘40 Greatest Hits.’ But I remember the first time I listened to this album, I was amazed over and over again how many songs of his I knew without knowing it was Hank Williams. Between TV and film and other artists covering his material, I’d be surprised if you didn’t already know and love over half of these songs.
MUST LISTEN TRACK: I’ve always liked “Hey, Good Lookin’”
Spotify: Hank Williams – 40 Greatest Hits

It always takes me a few songs to get acclimated to older recordings, but nobody sucks me into their era faster than Hanks Williams. I’ve never done too much research on his proper albums for some reason, so this is a two disc compilation called ‘40 Greatest Hits.’ But I remember the first time I listened to this album, I was amazed over and over again how many songs of his I knew without knowing it was Hank Williams. Between TV and film and other artists covering his material, I’d be surprised if you didn’t already know and love over half of these songs.

MUST LISTEN TRACK: I’ve always liked “Hey, Good Lookin’”

Spotify: Hank Williams – 40 Greatest Hits


After seeing their performance on the Grammy’s, I realized I’ve somehow never posted about Chicago. In 1969, known as The Chicago Transit Authority, they released their debut, eponymous, double album. Before eventually turning into everyone’s favorite dad rock band, Chicago was an early prog band, hence the four sides on this record, and a pretty badass one at that. So if you’ve only ever heard their hits, be prepared for some extensive instrumental sections.
MUST LISTEN TRACK: It’s a cool record, listen to it all.
Spotify: Chicago – Chicago Transit Authority

After seeing their performance on the Grammy’s, I realized I’ve somehow never posted about Chicago. In 1969, known as The Chicago Transit Authority, they released their debut, eponymous, double album. Before eventually turning into everyone’s favorite dad rock band, Chicago was an early prog band, hence the four sides on this record, and a pretty badass one at that. So if you’ve only ever heard their hits, be prepared for some extensive instrumental sections.

MUST LISTEN TRACK: It’s a cool record, listen to it all.

Spotify: Chicago – Chicago Transit Authority


In my listening to and researching Cheap Trick, I learned that their breakthrough and best selling album was actually a live one recorded ‘At Budokan’ in Tokyo, where they played to twelve thousand (from the sounds of it) only Japanese girls losing their minds. Much like why I like Boston’s early stuff, I’ve always liked Cheap Trick’s music for being on the cusp of where 70s arena rock turned into 80s stadium rock.
MUST LISTEN TRACK: ‘Surrender’
Spotify: Cheap Trick – At Budokan

In my listening to and researching Cheap Trick, I learned that their breakthrough and best selling album was actually a live one recorded ‘At Budokan’ in Tokyo, where they played to twelve thousand (from the sounds of it) only Japanese girls losing their minds. Much like why I like Boston’s early stuff, I’ve always liked Cheap Trick’s music for being on the cusp of where 70s arena rock turned into 80s stadium rock.

MUST LISTEN TRACK: ‘Surrender’

Spotify: Cheap Trick – At Budokan


In my continuing quest into the depths of classic rock I recently came across Rare Earth’s “One World.” Which I probably should have known about sooner seeing as how there’s a pretty big it on it. The good thing about this record is that the band is tight, the songs are pretty good, and it’s that pure classic rock sound I love so much. The bad thing is that I’ve begun to realize why many of these acts are largely forgotten about; they all kinda sound the same. Guitar tones and riffs are similar, gritty vocalists are similar, the songs aren’t quite good enough to stand out, etc. But whatever, it’s a cool record.
MUST LISTEN TRACK: The hit, ‘I Just Want to Celebrate’
Spotify: This album isn’t on Spotify, because I’m sure so many people still buy this record….so here’s a Greatest Hits link: Rare Earth – 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best of Rare Earth

In my continuing quest into the depths of classic rock I recently came across Rare Earth’s “One World.” Which I probably should have known about sooner seeing as how there’s a pretty big it on it. The good thing about this record is that the band is tight, the songs are pretty good, and it’s that pure classic rock sound I love so much. The bad thing is that I’ve begun to realize why many of these acts are largely forgotten about; they all kinda sound the same. Guitar tones and riffs are similar, gritty vocalists are similar, the songs aren’t quite good enough to stand out, etc. But whatever, it’s a cool record.

MUST LISTEN TRACK: The hit, ‘I Just Want to Celebrate’

Spotify: This album isn’t on Spotify, because I’m sure so many people still buy this record….so here’s a Greatest Hits link: Rare Earth – 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best of Rare Earth


Best Albums of 2013

Since human beings are now only capable of absorbing information on the internet in numbered list form, here’s my top ten records of 2013 list. Though, to be less completely arbitrary, my list isn’t numbered because I don’t feel like pretending I’ve thought that much about what order they should be in. So, sorry to any Pitchfork fans, but there will be no albums separated by two tenths of a point.

My rating system goes like this; I’m taking out all the notions of objectivity/influence/cultural impact that would have had me writing a twenty thousand word essay talking about fifty records (I’ll still do it if someone pays me), and simply focusing on what I enjoy the most. If I’m confident I’ll still be listening to the album 10 years from now, it’s on the list. Which means there’s plenty of music that’s come out that I still enjoy, just not the way I enjoy these records. The order is pretty much based on the order that I remember them, so read into that what you will. (All titles are Spotify links).

LUCIUS - WILDEWOMAN  - If I had to choose, this would be #1 just because god damn it’s a perfect record.

RHYE - WOMAN - Sexy grooves were laid. Falsetto was sang. Babies were made. 

FRIGHTENED RABBIT - PEDESTRIAN VERSE - A fantastic rock record that I’ve only seen on one end of year list so far. Clearly everyone is stupid but me.

THE NATIONAL - TROUBLE WILL FIND ME - Proof that great songwriting and a unique sound is all you need to succeed basically doing the same thing for over a decade.

VOLCANO CHOIR - REPAVE - Proof that Justin Vernon and his neck beard are unstoppable geniuses. Just accept it and deal with it.

JASON ISBELL - SOUTHEASTERN - A masterclass in writing sad songs that punch you in the gut without being all whiny and emo.

TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND - Made Up Mind - Listen to this record and for the love of whatever god you believe in go see this band live. You have no idea.

PORTUGAL. THE MAN - EVIL FRIENDS - These guys know their way around a melody better than most other indie rock acts.

SAVAGES - SILENCE YOURSELF - It’s rare for me to not think a hard rock record is totally dumb, let alone thoroughly enjoy it, so these four ladies get tons of props from me.

DAVID BOWIE - THE NEXT DAY - A fantastic breath of fresh air now that everyone assumes (usually correctly) any record by our classic rock heroes will be mediocre at best.


As a perfect example of what I love about picking a band/genre and jumping into the rabbit hole, my newfound interest in new wave eventually brought me to Talk Talk’s ‘Laughing Stock” (which is not new wave at all). Apparently this record is widely cited as an influential masterpiece and was rated the 11th best album of the 90s by Pitchfork, but I’d never heard of it. So yea, if you like expansive artsy rock that Pitchfork would name the 11th best album of the 90s, this bud’s for you.
MUST LISTEN TRACK: ‘Ascension Day’
Spotify: Talk Talk – Laughing Stock

As a perfect example of what I love about picking a band/genre and jumping into the rabbit hole, my newfound interest in new wave eventually brought me to Talk Talk’s ‘Laughing Stock” (which is not new wave at all). Apparently this record is widely cited as an influential masterpiece and was rated the 11th best album of the 90s by Pitchfork, but I’d never heard of it. So yea, if you like expansive artsy rock that Pitchfork would name the 11th best album of the 90s, this bud’s for you.

MUST LISTEN TRACK: ‘Ascension Day’

Spotify: Talk Talk – Laughing Stock


David Gray originally paid for and released ‘White Ladder’ himself in 1998 to little fanfare. In 2000 it was re-released as the first record on Dave Matthews’ ATO Records and shit got real. A few successful singles pushed sales into the millions and his mix of acoustic folk and electronic elements was, and still is, imitated by countless dudes with acoustic guitars and a looping pedal.
MUST LISTEN TRACK: “Babylon”
Spotify: David Gray – White Ladder

David Gray originally paid for and released ‘White Ladder’ himself in 1998 to little fanfare. In 2000 it was re-released as the first record on Dave Matthews’ ATO Records and shit got real. A few successful singles pushed sales into the millions and his mix of acoustic folk and electronic elements was, and still is, imitated by countless dudes with acoustic guitars and a looping pedal.

MUST LISTEN TRACK: “Babylon”

Spotify: David Gray – White Ladder


I tend not to be a huge fan of metal, but as a fan of people who take the time to be really great instrumentalists, there’s usually something I can pull out. Fans of the genre still expect a high level of musicianship so if people aren’t up to Dave Mustaine levels of guitar shredding, they’ll be booed off the stage. And while I enjoy some of Metallica’s later material more, their debut album, ‘Kill ‘Em All,’ is still a badass headbanger. Plus, it’s 1983, so we hadn’t hit Norwegian death metal levels of ridiculousness yet.
MUST LISTEN TRACK: ‘Motorbreath’
Spotify: Metallica – Kill ‘Em All

I tend not to be a huge fan of metal, but as a fan of people who take the time to be really great instrumentalists, there’s usually something I can pull out. Fans of the genre still expect a high level of musicianship so if people aren’t up to Dave Mustaine levels of guitar shredding, they’ll be booed off the stage. And while I enjoy some of Metallica’s later material more, their debut album, ‘Kill ‘Em All,’ is still a badass headbanger. Plus, it’s 1983, so we hadn’t hit Norwegian death metal levels of ridiculousness yet.

MUST LISTEN TRACK: ‘Motorbreath’

Spotify: Metallica – Kill ‘Em All


My avoidance of 80s music often makes me forget about certain bands’ significance, and after listening to a bunch of The Cars over the weekend, I realized they are a big one. You (or maybe only I) tend to forget just how many hit/well-known songs they have. ‘Heartbeat City’ alone has five, and this was their fifth album. It also came out in 1984, earlier than I thought, so I never realized how instrumental they were in forming the new wave, 80s sound. So despite my low threshold for goofy synths, this is a great record.
MUST LISTEN TRACK: ‘You Might Think’
Spotify: The Cars – Heartbeat City

My avoidance of 80s music often makes me forget about certain bands’ significance, and after listening to a bunch of The Cars over the weekend, I realized they are a big one. You (or maybe only I) tend to forget just how many hit/well-known songs they have. ‘Heartbeat City’ alone has five, and this was their fifth album. It also came out in 1984, earlier than I thought, so I never realized how instrumental they were in forming the new wave, 80s sound. So despite my low threshold for goofy synths, this is a great record.

MUST LISTEN TRACK: ‘You Might Think’

Spotify: The Cars – Heartbeat City


At this point there’s enough evidence to prove that if you put some musical geniuses in a room together, they will start to hate each other’s guts. Luckily we’ll get some brilliant music out of it, so collateral damage I guess?  This is exactly what happened when Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach got together to record ‘Money Jungle,’ which they did in one day, without rehearsing because nobody wanted to. At one point Mingus got so mad at Max he left, only to be stopped by Duke and persuaded to return. They were also contracted to do another record together but yea…that wasn’t gonna happen.
MUST LISTEN TRACK: ‘Money Jungle’
Spotify: Duke Ellington – Money Jungle

At this point there’s enough evidence to prove that if you put some musical geniuses in a room together, they will start to hate each other’s guts. Luckily we’ll get some brilliant music out of it, so collateral damage I guess?  This is exactly what happened when Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach got together to record ‘Money Jungle,’ which they did in one day, without rehearsing because nobody wanted to. At one point Mingus got so mad at Max he left, only to be stopped by Duke and persuaded to return. They were also contracted to do another record together but yea…that wasn’t gonna happen.

MUST LISTEN TRACK: ‘Money Jungle’

Spotify: Duke Ellington – Money Jungle


Apologies for going so long without any posts, but if you’re mad at me just listen to Otis Redding’s ‘Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul’ and we’ll be cool again. Backed by Booker T. and the M.G.s as well as Isaac Hayes on the keys, Redding released his third LP in 1965 and set a new high bar for soul music. That voice, man. It’s so heartbreaking and so joyous at the same time. There’s only three Otis originals on the record, but they were all instant classics. He also crushes the covers they might as well have been his songs. (Except ‘Change..,’ that will always be Sam’s song).
MUST LISTEN TRACK: ‘Ole Man Trouble’
Spotify: Otis Redding – Otis Blue

Apologies for going so long without any posts, but if you’re mad at me just listen to Otis Redding’s ‘Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul’ and we’ll be cool again. Backed by Booker T. and the M.G.s as well as Isaac Hayes on the keys, Redding released his third LP in 1965 and set a new high bar for soul music. That voice, man. It’s so heartbreaking and so joyous at the same time. There’s only three Otis originals on the record, but they were all instant classics. He also crushes the covers they might as well have been his songs. (Except ‘Change..,’ that will always be Sam’s song).

MUST LISTEN TRACK: ‘Ole Man Trouble’

Spotify: Otis Redding – Otis Blue


The first time I heard ‘The Velvet Underground & Nico’ I probably had the same reaction as every person in 1967; basically, “what the hell is this, this is weird, oh wait this is actually kinda cool.” Which is funny because if this record came out tomorrow I’d probably be pretty apathetic about it. But regardless of my thoughts, it is undeniable how influential this record, this band, this man was for rock & roll. And in the end that’s a greater feat than any collection of ten songs could ever be.
MUST LISTEN TRACK: ‘Heroin’
Spotify: The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground & Nico

The first time I heard ‘The Velvet Underground & Nico’ I probably had the same reaction as every person in 1967; basically, “what the hell is this, this is weird, oh wait this is actually kinda cool.” Which is funny because if this record came out tomorrow I’d probably be pretty apathetic about it. But regardless of my thoughts, it is undeniable how influential this record, this band, this man was for rock & roll. And in the end that’s a greater feat than any collection of ten songs could ever be.

MUST LISTEN TRACK: ‘Heroin’

Spotify: The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground & Nico


I’m sure you’ve all read fifteen Lou Reed eulogies by now so I’ll try not to say the same thing and quote the same quote as everyone else. Produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson, ‘Transformer’ was Reed’s second solo album after leaving The Velvet Underground. Like most of Reed’s work, this album wasn’t particularly met with the praise it now holds. It wasn’t panned per se, it contained his biggest hit, and even my uncool mom went to go see him live, but the true musical influence didn’t really catch on until years, if not decades later.
MUST LISTEN TRACK: ‘Satellite of Love’
Spotify: Lou Reed – Transformer

I’m sure you’ve all read fifteen Lou Reed eulogies by now so I’ll try not to say the same thing and quote the same quote as everyone else. Produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson, ‘Transformer’ was Reed’s second solo album after leaving The Velvet Underground. Like most of Reed’s work, this album wasn’t particularly met with the praise it now holds. It wasn’t panned per se, it contained his biggest hit, and even my uncool mom went to go see him live, but the true musical influence didn’t really catch on until years, if not decades later.

MUST LISTEN TRACK: ‘Satellite of Love’

Spotify: Lou Reed – Transformer


Before Faces, you know, the band with Rod Stewart and Ron Wood, there was Small Faces, a popular mod group for about 4 years. As with all 60s mod music, it can go from hilariously awesome to hilariously dumb in half a verse. ‘Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake’ (we’re already off to a great start, aren’t we) follows the concept album trend, with Side 1 being some fairly typical of the day rock and Side 2 being a 20 minute, heavily narrated fairy tale. If you are a fan of early Who, you’ll probably love this.
MUST LISTEN TRACK: ‘Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake’
Spotify: Small Faces – Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake

Before Faces, you know, the band with Rod Stewart and Ron Wood, there was Small Faces, a popular mod group for about 4 years. As with all 60s mod music, it can go from hilariously awesome to hilariously dumb in half a verse. ‘Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake’ (we’re already off to a great start, aren’t we) follows the concept album trend, with Side 1 being some fairly typical of the day rock and Side 2 being a 20 minute, heavily narrated fairy tale. If you are a fan of early Who, you’ll probably love this.

MUST LISTEN TRACK: ‘Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake’

Spotify: Small Faces – Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake