250 word album review: The Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers – Don’t Think About Tomorrow Night

The Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers - Don't Think About Tomorrow Night

Stars4

With some simple instrumentation and themes as old as lyrical music itself The Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers put together a smooth throwback album. A lot of fiddle and acoustic guitar lead the way here but what set the Sapsuckers apart is their unique lyrical twists and dark humor.

The sound harkens to Hank Williams Sr. as it honors those traditions in more ways than just the music. The theme of heartbreak is strong enough to call this a concept album. With tracks like “Come On, Break My Heart” and “Fools Were Made To Be Broken” it is obvious the subject matter here. It’s not all mopey old school country though. On “This Song” the duo of Nikki Grossman and Joe Hart sing in slightly off-kilter harmony reminiscent of The Moldy Peaches (think the “Juno” soundtrack.) The track is non-sensical fun as the words to the song are literally about not knowing the words to the song. Hart has vocal duties on the road weary tale “Borrowed Time” that features the most accessible bluegrass characteristics here. On the great “You Don’t Exist” Grossman takes the lead and profiles the best way to not get hung up on a past partner. That humor is completely absent on the title track “Don’t Think About Tomorrow Night” where Grossman sings lyrics that cut straight to the bone.

The duo has created a simple yet compelling collection of songs that both pull the heartstrings and tickle the funny bone, if you enjoy the traditions of old country this is a can’t miss.

Key Tracks: “You Don’t Exist” “Borrowed Time” “Don’t Think About Tomorrow Night”

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What’s In The Bag? CDs 24-30

BargainMusic

So I bought this bag of 50 random bargain cds and now I’m going to review every last one of them. This batch has a lot of pop music, sold lots of cds and now they are right back in the store.

CD 24/50: Mandy Moore – Mandy Moore (2001)

MandyMooreMandyMoore

A second Mandy Moore CD founds its way out of the bag. It is her self-titled effort from 2001 and it’s biggest hit appears to be “In My Pocket.” That song is another pretty generic pop song with a big chorus as a hook and a little breakdown part in the middle. A very uptempo song as the album actually has a good variance on tempo of songs. The song “Crush” was also a minor hit and sounds like a bad Natalie Merchant song. Overall this third album by Moore sounds a little better than her first but still isn’t anything that will find its way into my rotation.

CD 25/50: Ashlee Simpson – Autobiography (2004)

AshleeSimpsonAuotbiography

This #1 album was a huge hit back in 2004. With her sister Jessica already topping charts Ashlee Simpson had a leg up and used it. Her song “Pieces of Me” was a nice pop song that had some guitar and a little bit of a spine. It sounds like the acoustic lick from Incubus’ “Pardon Me” actually. The quasi-punk sounding “La La” shows the kind of album she was trying to make. It has crunchy guitar and snarly vocals. It was pop music focused at less the homecoming queen and more at the outcast crowd. Either way it worked quite well, the album went 3x platinum.

CD 26 & 27/50: Britney Spears – Femme Fatale (2011) & Britney Spears – Circus (2008)

This “double pack” of CDs really is going to exhaust the Britney Spears quota in my collection. They are her “comeback” era albums after she was on top of the world and then fell from grace. They are both #1 albums still, the main songs you’ll know here include “Womanizer” and “Hold It Against Me” If you know Britney Spears’ music you know what to expect here and that is what you get. What songs are on what record here isn’t really important, it’s all white rice. Other singles off these records charted and were successful but it still sounds like it has churned through the pop machine.

CD 28/50: Terri Clark – Pain To Kill (2003)

TerriClarkPainToKill

Another Terri Clark CD too, they are really filling out my collection of artists I never wanted in the first place. Clark isn’t terrible but it still is more of that 90s country sound that isn’t too enthralling to listen to. This album has the hit “I Just Wanna Be Mad” and also “I Wanna Do It All” which were both top 3 country hits. I remember “I Wanna Do It All” probably because it has a baseball reference in it, even if it is the Yankees. There’s nothing too special here still, another okay pop-country cd from the late 90s and early 00s and there isn’t a whole lot else to say about it.

CD 29/50: Semisonic – Feeling Strangely Fine (1998)

SemisonicFeelingStrangelyFine

Hell yeah! I’m a big Semisonic fan and pulling this CD from the bag both made sense and made me happy. We all know the big hit here, “Closing Time” dominated rock radio back in 1998 and still is a frequent play on many stations. You’ll also hear it as bars and other businesses are closing, how clever. What you might not know is that Semisonic is a fantastic band with far more great songs than their big hit. On this album alone you have the sweet “Secret Smile” and the Ben Folds-esque “Never You Mind.” The best song on this album though (yes, even better than “Closing Time”) is “Singing In My Sleep.” The rocking song is a power-pop anthem that never got the credit it deserved.

CD 30/50: Cody Simpson – 4U EP (2010)

CodySimpson4U

This is an early EP from pop artist Cody Simpson and it is beyond garbage. The Australian teen heartthrob was born in 1997 so some quick math tells us he was 13 when this EP hit the shelves. It sounds like it too. It is about the most juvenile crap pop you can imagine. Flo-Rida guests on one song called “IYIYI” and there is a video for that one, if you can make it to the end of it you are a bigger man than I. This is probably the worst CD I’ve pulled from the bag thus far.

 

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The Vinyl Court: Father John Misty – God’s Favorite Customer

Father John Misty - God's Favorite Customer

  • Artist: Father John Misty
  • Album: God’s Favorite Customer (2018)
  • Purchased at: Vintage Vinyl (St. Louis, MO) for $20

Father John Misty was crowned king of the hipsters a few years ago, ceremonies aren’t cool so he never had one. Instead hipster music fans will just continue to adore him and act like everyone just “doesn’t get it.” Okay, this didn’t “officially” happen but it seems true. The fact is that no matter the image or fanbase good music is hard to ignore and Father John Misty is strangely compelling. His new album has the intoxicating “Mr. Tillman” about getting blitzed in a nice hotel room and connecting the dots the next day. There’s a very interesting self inspection with “The Songwriter” as well that has some interesting twists on the superfan mentality. It’s the same old Father John Misty but is still very intriguing and filled with good songs.

So this is the “loser edition” of God’s Favorite Customer,” this means it has those cool blue chrome tears on the cover and an exclusive purple splatter vinyl pressing. The actual record is made to look like a test pressing too which is actually pretty cool and fooled me at first. The inner jacket that you can’t even see has a nice paisley-esqe pattern too, the artwork is really top notch here.

Verdict: It’s a litmus test, you’ll like it or hate it most likely. As much as my instincts tell me not to like this record I can’t help but be pulled in by it.

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What’s In The Bag? CDs 15-23

BargainMusic

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)

SpinDoctorsPocketFullOfKryptonite

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)

CollinRayeTheWallsCameDown

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)

SherylCrowTuesdayNightMusicClub

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)

CraigMorganCraigMorgan

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)

AboveAllUltimateWorship

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)

SmashMouthFushYuMang

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)

REMNewAdventuresInHiFi

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)

MandyMooreSoReal

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)

ActionActionAnArmyOfShapes

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

Stars3.5

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

BargainMusic

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)

BrianMcknightAnytime

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)

AshleeSimpsonBittersweetWorld

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)

TerriClarkFearless

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)

HeartMagazine

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&DunnIfYouSeeHer

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)

TrishaYearwood

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)

WhoopiEddieSoundtrack

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)

JohnMichaelMontgomeryLeaveAMark

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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