What’s In The Bag? CDs 15-23


So I bought this bag of 50 random bargain cds and now I’m going to review every last one of them. This group has some interesting pulls. The 90s country isn’t as dominating and there is some 90s alternative rock in here that is right in my wheelhouse.

CD 15/50: Spin Doctors – Pocket Full of Kryptonite (1991)


This was a good way to start this group of cds, it gives me hope that a copy of Cracker’s “Kerosene Hat” may be hiding in the bag too. The bad thing is the cd is damaged, the computer wouldn’t read it and the car cd player couldn’t play it all. This is the big Spin Doctors album with the hits “Two Princes” and “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong.” The band is very unique still to this day and their music still doesn’t sound dated. The album is well-known because it went 5x platinum. This also means there are several copies in used bins all over. I might need to seek out a cleaner copy now that I got a taste of this one again.

CD 16/50: Collin Raye – The Walls Came Down (1998)


I vaguely remember Collin Raye but couldn’t recall any songs. Some research revealed he was the artist behind the hit “That’s My Story” that I recognize but that song isn’t on this album. This being his fifth record, it does possess the number 1 country hit “I Can Still Feel You.” It’s another largely generic 90s country hit that the singer didn’t write. It’s an upbeat romp that probably got some line dances going. On the other side was the slow burner “Someone You Used To Know” filled with sentimentality that also made some radio waves. A lot of these country CDs emerging out of the bag are blending together, this being one of them.

CD 17/50: Sheryl Crow – Tuesday Night Music Club (1993)


Here’s a decent pull. Sheryl Crow gets a lot of guff but I’ve always liked some of her music and defended it. This was a really big one selling tons of copies, 4.5 million copies in the US to be precise. You’d recognize the huge hits “All I Wanna Do” and “Strong Enough.” It was a huge debut that vaulted her to a successful career. Ironically the first two singles from this cd weren’t very successful in “Run Baby Run” and “Leaving Las Vegas” (both songs aren’t bad) but the third and fourth singles here made the Kennet, Missouri native’s career. She even took home 3 Grammys for her work here. There’s also the “Subterranean Homesick Blues”-esque “The Na Na Song” that got this album banned from being sold at Walmart. It still racked up sales in spite of that and still is arguably Crow’s best record.

CD 18/50: Craig Morgan – Craig Morgan (2000)


This debut album by a country artist is actually from BEFORE his commercially successful run. There are no high charting singles here but it laid the groundwork for a guy who would go on to sell many records in the red states. What you have here is some full blooded flag waving country. The lead song “Paradise” is a straight forward military song. Another single “Something To Write Home About” is a pop-country love story. There’s a sappy single here too in “I Want Us Back” and interestingly a duet with the legend Merle Haggard. Haggard talk sings through a history lesson on “I Wish I Could See Bakersfield” where Morgan and Haggard swapping lines in a pretty unsubstantial song.

CD 19/50: Above All – Ultimate Worship Anthems of the Christian Faith (2cd) (2005)


Christian music… some of it isn’t bad but it’s all so damn positive. I like my songs dark and depressing overall and it’s just not here. The devil seems to inspire better worship music than God but that is a matter of preference. This double cd set finds nearly 2 hours of christian faith anthems, most of them sounding like they are recorded live. I think there are some heavy hitters here, there are a couple of Hillsong tunes and I know they are massively popular. This music definitely isn’t my thing though and is really pretty painful to listen to. The music isn’t bad, it just has a very specific niche that I don’t relate to and it makes the record not for me. It is a nice clean double cd case though and it’s always nice to have a few extra of those lying around.

CD 20/50: Smash Mouth – Fush Yu Mang (1997)


Smash Mouth is now infamous but they actually managed to turn a big lead single off of this record into a career that had some legs. “Walkin’ On The Sun” was a monster hit back in 1997 that dominated modern rock radio play. The song is cool, it’s got an spacey vibe with some interesting guitar licks. The rest of the album sounds a little different, it’s a ska record in the vein of Reel Big Fish or Mighty Mighty Bosstones. It becomes apparent Smash Mouth relied on gimmicks here though after you hear the singles “The Fonz” and a cover of WAR’s “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” There’s also a song named “Beer Goggles” and one named “Pet Names.” It’s really impressive this band was able to escape the “one hit wonder” curse with this album.

CD 21/50: R.E.M. – New Adventures In Hi-Fi (1996)


Well, it isn’t “Monster” like I wanted to pull but it is an R.E.M. album. It’s a good one too, “New Adventures in Hi-Fi” is no joke, it’s a good album. It was in fact a hit as an album and not so much driven by singles. The group had hugely successful singles off other album but the biggest songs here are “Bittersweet Me” and “E-Bow The Letter.” This was the 10th effort by the band and by this time the world was watching every move the band made. Critics loved it and the fanbase felt the same. It is probably a second-tier album for the band behind records like “Murmur” and “Automatic For The People” but still better than the bulk of their catalog.

CD 22/50: Mandy Moore – So Real (1999)


You know the singer and actress Mandy Moore? Of course you do. This is where it started for her back just days before Y2K this album hit and speaking of hits the lead single “Candy” had every preteen girl singing along. While Moore would graduate to more adult sound for her records this one is still very much pop. She was swimming in the massive wake of Brittany Spears and Christina Aguilara. Other singles charted here but they are more pop dribble and aren’t important.

CD 23/50: Action Action – An Army of Shapes Between Wars (2006)


Hey! Here is an interesting one. It’s an album that I hadn’t heard of and it has a really great album cover. This is definitely going to be the best album cover in the bag I think, I really like it. It also has a cardboard slipcase and the pricetag from when it was being sold individually is $6.99, much higher than all the other CDs in the bad. Hey, there’s music on the CD too. It is a strange mix of electronica indie rock. There are no singles to speak of here, just an album released into the world hoping to find some ears. It sounds a little like a more upbeat version of the band Orgy, or maybe and offshoot of bands like My Chemical Romance or All American Rejects for more electronic elements. While there is nothing outstanding here, songs like “Paper Cliche” have cool grooves and “Don’t Shoot The Messenger” sounds like some good quality snot-punk. I wish there were far more albums like this one in the grab back.

This is a slight redemption from the second group of CDs out of the bargain bag. There were a couple I really liked and a couple mildly interesting ones and a nice spraying from different genres. On the the next batch! (I’ve seen them and it’s a lot of crap pop so we can all look forward to that.)

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250 word album review: Eels – The Deconstruction

Eels - The Deconstruction


The last couple Eels albums have had some interesting turns. Mark Oliver Everett (“E”) has always made Eels music a hot and cold mix of uptempo songs and some slower songs but over the past couple albums the slower songs focusing on lyrics have taken over.

“The Deconstruction” is largely made up of slower, lyrically based songs. This doesn’t mean the songs are bad by any means but it makes the album a little tougher listen than say, “Hombre Lobo.” This album really has two uptempo songs, the lead single “Today Is The Day” and “You Are The Shining Light.” “Today Is The Day” finds E as upbeat as ever, professing about the wonderful possibilities of the day. “You Are The Shining Light” finds a downright raunchy, distorted guitar lick blasting on the experimental track. The dark, tingling bass line on “Bone Dry” sets the tone for the tortured song as several other tracks on the record follow this template, it is called “The Deconstruction” after all. The slow and true approach on “Rusty Pipes” lets E display his vocal prowess, singing his way through another downtrodden tale. On the acoustic “Be Hurt” you get encouraged to let the pain flow, although the song about embracing pain is one of the few uplifting songs of this group.

Overall E doesn’t really make bad records and this one definitely isn’t bad either. It seems his stronger songs are upbeat like what made up his last record “Wonderful, Glorious.” Instead you get some singer-songwriter tunes here much closer to the Eels “Cautionary Tales” album.

Key Tracks: “Today Is The Day” “Bone Dry” “You Are The Shining Light”

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VOT New Music Premiere: Stone Blind – Jackknife Messiah

Photo and image of Stone Blind used from the band's facebook page without one bit of permission. https://www.facebook.com/stoneblindstjoe/

Photo and image of Stone Blind used from the band’s facebook page without one bit of permission. https://www.facebook.com/stoneblindstjoe/

Stone Blind has shared the first glimpse at their new album “Devils, Liars & Fools.” The St. Joseph three piece has been playing live shows debuting new music for a while now and are getting ready for their first release of original music.

Stone Blind originally started as a tribute to Black Sabbath and still is in many ways. The band has no qualms about showing their love for the Ozzy Osbourne led rock pioneers and all of their music reflects that. You can finally hear proof of their stompy roots with this new track “Jackknife Messiah.” The track starts with a riff that would immediately make Tony Iommi throw up the devil horns. The song has tons of low end and Jason Osborn’s vocals follow the thick bass line and pounding drums. If this song is any indication the upcoming debut album “Devil, Liars & Fools” will be a great listen. They are currently mastering the album due for a release before fall of this year. Enjoy the track below from the band’s reverbnation page.


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What’s In The Bag? CDs 7-14


So I bought this bag of 50 random bargain cds and now I’m going to review every last one of them. This group of 8 is just brutal.

CD 7/50: Brian Mcknight – Anytime (1997)


Brian Mcknight sold 2 million copies of this album, I don’t think I’ve heard any songs from this before. I’ve heard of Mcknight and Mase who guests on the biggest single here “You Should Be Mine.” This is the R&B I spoke of in my preview article for this series. It’s not a genre I love so this is a little tough. There’s lots of slow jams here, lots of songs to get your lady in the mood… maybe. It probably does the job better than Metallica anyway. This album isn’t something I’ll ever listen to again, time to move on.

CD 8/50: Ashlee Simpson – Bittersweet World (2008)


I saw Ashlee Simpson once at a Kings of Leon show. I also was watching the Saturday Night Live where she messed up lip synching. That about flushes out my opinions on Ashlee Simpson. This album is her 3rd and it was the beginning of the end for her it looks like. She burst onto the scene and was huge for a bit, then she faded away and went into witness relocation or something. The biggest single from this album “…Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya)” sounds like that song “Hey Mickey you’re so fine” updated for a different generation. The only problem is that this song isn’t as cute or good or probably not originally about a kitty like the aforementioned 80s song. I’ve gotten off subject, where was I? Oh yes, I don’t like this pop crap, time to move on.

CD 9/50: Terri Clark – Fearless (2000)


I knew I’d get to some country in here eventually. This Terri Clark album led to a rash of country cds out of the bag that I hope ends soon. You’ll see further down the page that I’m listening to a lot of country for this article. The biggest single here appears to be “A Little Gasoline” and I don’t remember but it isn’t bad. It is definitely that late 90s/early 2000s radio country sound. Clark’s voice has plenty of twang and the lyrics aren’t terrible, it just sounds like it came out of the Nashville “machine.” It’s worth noting that Clark’s star has faded in the US but she is actually still charting in Canada where she is from.

CD 10/50: Heart – Magazine (1978)


Heart is a decent band but it looks like this is one of their bad albums. Ironically from the same year (1978) as that Dire Straits cd I pulled in the last batch, “Magazine” critically doesn’t get a lot of credit and didn’t do well on the charts. The only song that charted was the title track “Magazine” but you also get a blues medley here and a cover of the excellent Badfinger song “Without You.” This album still managed to move over a million copies in the US likely because of the success Heart had already achieved. With rockers like “Devil Delight” as well this misstep in Heart’s discography is still the best cd of this batch of bargain grab bag discs.

CD 11/50: Brooks & Dunn – If You See Her (1998)


Brooks & Dunn are what I think of when I think about riding the school bus in high school. The duo was littered all over country radio for many many years. This album was well into their career and still spawned three #1 country songs. The biggest being “If You See Him/If You See Her” with the guest vocal talents of Reba McEntire. “How Long Gone” is another radio standard that still gets play. I’d go as far as to say this album really encompasses 90s radio country all together. Decent songwriting and that standard “Nashville” production creates some of the most radio friendly stuff you can fine.

CD 12/50: Trisha Yearwood – Trisha Yearwood (1991)


Here’s another bus cd… “She’s In Love With The Boy” is a song I’ve heard over and over. The song “That’s What I Like About You” is a country romp that is also a fun listen and another of the four top 10 country singles off this record. This cd hits a weird vein of my childhood that prevents me from hating it. I’m not saying I’m jamming out to it often but I don’t hate it. Unfortunately, this cd looks like someone tried to hold it under water to drown it. The water damage is brutal, the cd was not included in the insurance claim though so it plays fine.

CD 13/50: Whhopi – Eddie (the soundtrack) (1996)


Whoopi must have been in this terrible movie. This cd represents my biggest fear in pulling discs out of the brown paper bag. A bad soundtrack from a bad movie featuring music from a genre I don’t care for. If you’re curious the notable artists here are Coolio, Dru Hill and House of Pain. The Coolio song was a single and isn’t terrible, it has a funk feel to it and I can stand it. The other hit song by Dru Hill isn’t really good at all. The hodgepodge of other songs just aren’t interesting from someone who doesn’t listen to contemporary R&B.

CD 14/50: John Michael Montgomery – Leave A Mark (1998)


Another great 90s country radio name is John Michael Montgomery. While this isn’t his most popular album it did have some hits. The most notable being “Cover You In Kisses” which is another Garth Brooks-sounding generic twangy number. I don’t know that any of the songs here are particularly bad but they just aren’t interesting. Another radio hit “Hold On To Me” is really boring and bad and most other songs mostly follow suit. Montgomery is another pop country performer that doesn’t write much of his own music and who owe’s his career to promoters and label push.

Please let the next group be a little less shitty. I’m not near as excited about this project anymore.

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250 word album review: Okkervil River – In The Rainbow Rain

Okkervil River - In The Rainbow Rain


Okkervil River has deservingly built up a great and loyal following. They’ve done this with singer/cornerstone of the band Will Sheff leading the way exposing his heart and soul in his writing. The casual observer might think Sheff and company don’t take many chances veering from the norm but this album definitely has a little different feel.

The first song “Famous Tracheotomies” pulls no punches in subject matter, it is about exactly that. It is a typically weird and uncomfortable Okkervil song with no chorus or hook but still manages to be entrancing. As far as the sound of the album that lead song doesn’t show the cards that “In The Rainbow Rain” is actually holding. The rest of the album touches on what is hinted at on the album art colors, an 80s sound. You’ll hear keyboards, synthesizers and horns throughout with production to match. It gives the whole album a cloud of untimeliness that is likely very intentional. It can be distracting, almost like extra tinsel when it isn’t needed. Songs like “Love Somebody” and “Pull Up The Ribbon” are upbeat and overcome this handicap. This is especially true on the wonderful swaying tune “Don’t Move Back To LA.” That song shows how great of songwriter Sheff really is.

The album is a little different than recent efforts by the band and the dated sound and production can be distracting but it is still difficult to hide good songs and there are a few really good songs here worth checking out.

Key Tracks: “Famous Tracheotomies” “Don’t Move Back To LA” “Love Somebody”

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What’s In The Bag? CDs 1-6


So I bought this bag of 50 random bargain cds and now I’m going to review every last one of them. Starting with a Creed cd really set the tone. I knew there would be some music that I was familiar with but out of the first 6 I owned 4 of them at one time. Here is the first group of reviews:

CD 1/50: Creed – Weathered (2001)


Creed was on top of the world when this album was released, they had no idea the rug was about to be pulled from under them. This fitting first cd from the bag is really generic butt-rock. I was excited when the opener “Bullets” was a hard rocker when this was released. The single “My Sacrifice” was huge, I mean everywhere. I never needed to hear it again but here it is in my cd player. “One Last Breath” was popular too, it is worse than “My Sacrifice.” Overall these are just generic songs without a lot to them, they sound like radio rock from the early 2000s.

CD 2/50: Creed – Human Clay (1999)


They aren’t all going to be Creed cds right? Although, that would’ve been about the funniest thing ever. I was very into “Higher” when it first hit the radio, don’t judge. It was a catchy rock song and I still don’t hate it. The sentimentality of “With Arms Wide Open” fell short of me liking it though. “Are You Ready” was an alright song too but overall this album is pretty “meh,” even for what it is. I’m glad we got the Creed cds out of the way early and I don’t have to worry about them lingering in the bottom of the bag.

CD 3/50: Crash Karma – Rock Musique Deluxe (2013)


This is the only cd out of the first 6 I hadn’t heard of. Opening the booklet reveals a band picture that tells a lot of the story though. A group of 4 pristine looking guys with shades of hipster leanings. They turn out to be Canadian and have one member from the band Our Lady Peace, pretty cool. The music isn’t bad but it also isn’t all that great. It’s standard pop punk meets alternative rock. The songs are hooky and have memorable choruses but nothing stands out as amazing about this cd.

CD 4/50: Dire Straits – Dire Straits (1978)


Really? The Dire Straits? I didn’t see this one coming. This album is really really good. I own it on cd and vinyl and have a ton of respect for it. So why is it in here? It isn’t hugely sought after but still I would think it could fetch a $3-5 price tag at a used cd store. It has “Down By The Waterline” and the great “Sultans of Swing” as cornerstones of the record. It also has the great and underrated “Water of Love” hidden away in the tracklist. This is a cd that already was in my collection somewhere so it was a shocking pull, it’s a really great album.

CD 5/50: Finger Eleven – Finger Eleven (2003)


I should have seen this coming after the Creed albums. Wind-Up label mate Finger Eleven sold lots of cds riding Creed’s coattails in the early 2000s and I’m sure many are right back in the cd store again these days. You probably have heard the megahit off this one, “One Thing” it’s an acoustic ballady thing and it’s not that great. It’s a radio song and doesn’t make you throw up in your mouth or anything but it’s probably not on any of your current playlists or anything.

CD 6/50: Ben Folds Five – Whatever and Ever Amen (1997)


I had planned to only review 5 in the first group but I couldn’t stand it, I needed one more. Pulling out a Ben Folds album was a nice surprise. Something I was familiar with and didn’t mind listening to at all. I had forgotten how bouncy this album is, the upbeat piano tunes are pretty fun to listen to. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t tire of them by the end of the record but it’s still a fun listen. You’d probably recognize the mega-hit “Brick” off of this album, it’s a great radio song.

Now that I’ve hit “publish” on this article I can open the next group of cds, I must admit, I’m really excited to see what I’m going to pull out.

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250 word album review: Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel

Courtney Barnett - Tell Me How You Really Feel


This album is exactly what the best case scenario was for Courtney Barnett. After a couple of successful EPs and debut album, then a solid release with fellow slacker rock icon Kurt Vile the stage was perfectly set for “Tell Me How You Really Feel.”

Barnett’s last record “Sometimes I Sit and Think…” was very, very good. It was hard to imagine her next solo album would eclipse it but it has. Right away “Hopefulessness” is a great brooding opener that builds to the songs that will soon follow. The line from the song “take your broken heart and turn it into art” sums up the record nicely too. The lackadaisical approach Barnett is known for is delivered perfectly on “Need A Little Time” as the electric guitars ring in the background. On “Nameless, Faceless” (hey, I wonder if she’s ever listened to Nirvana’s “Nevermind”) the tempo is more upbeat but the mood fails to lift. The Jeckyl/Hyde song’s chorus dips to a distorted darkness that starkly contrasts the verses. “Walkin’ On Eggshells” reveals even more heartbreak and as it sounds like a pacifist shoegaze version of Dylan’s “Positively 4th Street.” It’s not all mellow rock though, “I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch” sounds like one of those early amazing b-sides from the White Stripes with their brash guitar noise and ambiguousness.

Every songs here is a highlight, you won’t find a weak song that doesn’t possess something interesting. Barnett simply knocked her proper sophomore album out of the park. If she can continue to write songs this good and interesting her records will be must-buys for years to come.

Key Tracks: “Need A Little Time” “Walkin’ On Eggshells” “Nameless, Faceless” “City Looks Pretty”

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