First Quarter Review

Well now, there have been a lot of albums released during the first three months of 2017. I mean a LOT.  We’re talking over 350 albums released!

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I’ve compiled a list of my top 25 albums released during the first quarter of 2017, although I do encourage you to do some research yourself and see which ones really stand out to you.

So, here we go!

  1. David Bowie – “No Plan”
  2. Brian Eno – “Reflection”
  3. Dropkick Murpheys – “11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory”
  4. AFI – “AFI (The Blood Album)”
  5. The Flaming Lips – “Oczy Mlody”
  6. Hurray for the Riff Raff – “The Navigator”
  7. Murs – “”Captain California”
  8. Depeche Mode – “Spirit”
  9. Spoon – “Hot thoughts”
  10. Bob Dylan – “Triplicate”
  11. The Jesus and Mary Chain – “Damage and Joy”
  12.  Bush – “Black and White Rainbows”
  13. The XX – “I See You”
  14. John 5 & The Creatures – “Season of the Witch”
  15. Mastodon – “Emperor of Sand”
  16. Passion Pit – “Tremendous Sea of Love”
  17. Overkill – The Grinding Wheel”
  18. Save Ferris – “Checkered Past”
  19. Halestorm – “Reanimate 3.0: The Covers EP”
  20. Animal Collective – “The Painters”
  21. Born of Osiris – “The Eternal Reign”
  22. Black Star Riders – “Heavy Fire”
  23. deadmau5 – “Stuff I Used to Do”
  24. Dashboard Confessional – “Covered and Taped”
  25. Minus the Bear – “VOIDS”

Whew! So now you’ve got your homework. Check out these albums, and skim through the other Albums Released in 2017 to find your favorites. Be share to comment your favorites below!

International Women’s Day

As many of my long-time readers know, I adamantly support and try to promote the amazing women in the music industry. In fact, I’ve even written articles talking about some of the very talented women rocking the music world as we speak. You can read those articles Here and Also Here.

Today is International Women’s Day, and instead of sounding like a broken record and just talking about the same thing in the aforementioned articles, I wanted to take a moment to remember some of the women who really paved the way for modern day female musicians, as well as inspired artists throughout the years.

From stereotype shattering performers like Sister Rosetta Tharpe to punk icons like Poly Styrene(of whom I talked about in my most recent post) and Debbie Harry, to pop icons like Selena, women have been rocking our faces off from day one.

Because of their amazing perseverance and refusal to just sit idly by, we got acts like The Runaways who changed the way women were perceived in the industry, and inspired generations to follow.

So I just want to encourage my readers to take a moment and really reflect on the work of these amazing women, and hopefully inspire a new sense of appreciation for their efforts. Open up your preferred music streaming app and listen to some Tina Turner, Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton, Siousxie & The Banshee, The Pretenders, The Carpenters, The Breeders, The Selecter, Lorde, St. Vincent, and so many other fantastic women in music.

Happy International Women’s Day!

 

Black History Month: Honoring Black Musicians Throughout History

Anyone remotely familiar with modern music history knows that we wouldn’t have music as it is now without the innovations and contributions from African American musicians. In fact, genres like Rock wouldn’t even exist without their efforts. All of the classic rock bands like The Rolling Stones and The Who claim influence from African American Blues singers like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and John Lee Hooker.

While their efforts were eclipsed by their Caucasian counterparts like Pat Boone, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis, those acts wouldn’t have gotten where they were without musicians like Ray Charles and Little Richard paving the way.

Easily the most famous Black musician has got to be Jimi Hendrix, who is often revered as the greatest guitar player of all time. Hendrix was an amazing guitar player, whose talents were unrivaled. His band The Jimi Hendrix Experience became one of the most influential bands in the late 60’s and into the 70’s, with many modern day guitarists claiming inspiration from Hendrix to this day.

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Poly Styrene and her band X-Ray Spex

Even the Punk genre came into existence out of African American influence. One of the most favored punk bands of all time is Bad Brains, which consisted solely of African American members. Not to mention X-Ray Spex front woman Poly Styrene kickin’ everyone’s ass with her energetic stage presence.

And what of modern day musicians? They’re not all Rappers and Hip-Hop artists you know. From the esteemed Bassist Victor Wooten, the face-melting guitar talents of Tosin Abasi, and double-threat of pianist and vocalist Alicia Keys, Black musicians continue to play a very influential role in the music world.

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So in remembering the amazing Black historical figures like Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman,  Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, George Washington Carver, and countless others, be sure to take a moment to reflect on the myriad of  wonderful contributions that the African American community have made to the music world. Really take the time to appreciate the fact that your favorite band most likely wouldn’t be where they are without them.

More Heady Nuggs

My favorite all-time odd band is back. The Flaming Lips help us kick off 2017 with their latest album “Oczy Mlody” (no, I’m not sure how to pronounce that either).

The Flaming Lips have entered their third stage as band in the last few years. Their previous full length release “The Terror” saw a departure from the usual positive and optimistic themes in favor of a never before explored emotion from the band: negativity and realism.

“The Terror” also kicked off what I referred to as the third stage as it showed an evolution of the band’s sound. While previous releases like 2009’s “Embryonic” and their fantastic 2006 release “At War With the Mystics” were layered with heavy distortion and white noise, “Oczy Mlody” is more atmospheric and broad with it’s sounds and electronics. Lead singer Wayne Coyne’s vocals, as unique as always, remains calm and subdued like in previous releases, however the accompanying music actually matches the calmness throughout most of the album. Something that long-time Lips fans haven’t seen since the 1990’s.

“Oczy Mlody” is the first Flaming Lips album in a very long time that you can just sit back and relax to or enjoy on an early morning drive without wanting to get too hyped up. Often times throughout the album it feels like they took influence from Tycho and even Daft Punk’s “Tron” soundtrack, and mixed in their own unique blend of oddball characteristics. The whole album actually feels like a nod to the psychedelic movement of music in the 1960’s with a modern day electronic twist. It’s pretty rad if you ask me.

I honestly feel like this is an album that virtually everyone can enjoy. Be you a long-time fan of the band or new to their music, I believe “Oczy Mlody” is a fantastic introductory album to the Flaming Lips that will inspire newcomers and critics alike to consider visiting the band’s previous works.

“Oczy Mlody” is available digitally and in stores now, so do yourself a favor and check out the first major release of 2017.

2016: A Year in Review

 Well, we’ve survived the first week of 2017. As mentioned in my previous post, I’ll be maintaining an optimistic outlook for this year. 

 Besides we do have a lot to look forward to, like new music from AFI, The Flaming Lips, The Wrens, and more.

 Before that happens, however, I’d like to share my favorite albums that were released in during the train wreck that was 2016.

Tiger Army “V”


 Let me start off by saying that I love Tiger Army. I actually got to see them for my birthday last year prior to this album being released, and I’ll be seeing them again in a few months at the same venue. I enjoyed this album from start to finish, and it fit perfectly in line with Tiger Army’s previous releases without sounding like the same thing over and over. 

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down “A Man Alive”


 This album was, without question, my absolute favorite Indie release last year. The music was a wonderful and ecclectic bend of indie rock, hip-hop, and alternative. This coupled well with Thao Ngyuen’s vocal styling, and made for a really solid album.

Iggy Pop with Josh Homme “Post-Pop Depression”


 As my readers my recall, I raved about this album in my review. I thought it was excellent. It’s a wonderful follow-up to Pop’s “The Idiot” with perfect influence from Josh Homme. I still have this album in regular rotation, and I play my vinyl copy (hipster chic, I know) for my friends. 

A Tribe Called Quest “We Got it From Here…Thank You for Your Service”


 Eighteen years after their last album release, and A Tribe Called Quest prove that they’re still very much a force to be reckoned with in the Hip-Hop/Rap community. The album touches on current social events, and pays tribute to the late Phife Dawg. Featuring guest appearances from Busta Rhymes and even Elton John, “We Got it From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service” is rapidly becoming one of my all-time favorite albums of its genre. 

 Blink 182 “California”


 The first Blink 182 album without Tom DeLonge, and it’s far superior to the previous release “Neighborhoods” in almost every way. Mark Hoppis and Travis Barker recruited Alkaline Trio frontman Matt Skiba to fill in for DeLonge on guitar and vocals, and it worked wonderfully. While the album did touch on serious subjects, it kept a sense of lightheartedness we use to see in earlier Blink releases. There is even a brief joke track called “Built This Pool,” whose lyrics I won’t post in an attempt to keep this post family friendly. 

Descendant “Hypercaffium Spazzinate”


 Milo Aukerman and crew touch on how getting older sucks and lay on the classic self-depreciation on their return to Epitaph Records album release. “Hypercaffium Spazzinate” (which is far easier to write than say) maintains the classic Deacendants sound and sense of humor while reminding us that they are very much a classic punk band. 

David Bowie “Blackstar”


 By now, my readers are probably getting real sick and tired of my constant rants about how awesome Bowie was. I don’t apologize for that. The man was a legend, and his music was very influential in my life. He left this earth with one final masterpiece, “Blackstar,” and it was a wonderful, insightful, and imaginiatve work of art. The imagery that coincided in the music videos like “Lazerus” were surreal and chilling, and just goes to show how insanely gifted and talented he was. 

 Well, there you have it. My personal favorite album releases of 2016. I’d love to hear what yours were! Comment your favorites below, and be sure to follow @TheMusicJunkie8 on Twitter

Dazed, and Confused

I feel like 2016 has been one of the most roller coaster years in recent history. We had an almost sitcom-like election, beloved actors and actresses were taken from us so expectantly, and  geopolitical tensions are at a high.

No category has experienced ups & downs more than the world of music, however. We lost ICONS this last year, and the majority of them were unexpected. David Bowie, Prince, Merle Haggard, Greg Lake, Alphonse Mouzon, Maurice White, Leonard Coen, and George Michael all left us this year, and that’s not even half!

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we saw reunion performances from the original Misfits, A Tribe Called Quest released their first album in EIGHTEEN YEARS, and out of nowhere The freakin’ SMITHS announced that they’ll be releasing a new LP that features previously unreleased tracks!

I don’t even understand what’s going on anymore, and I’ve stopped trying. This last year has tumultuous and confusing at every turn, and just when we think things are calming down it throws us another curveball.

Like the sudden loss of Carrie Fisher. I know that’s not music related, but I am a lifelong Star Wars fan, and I was just as upset over losing Princess Leia/General Leia Organa as I was over Bowie. And then, the very next day, her mother Debbie Reynolds passed away! (That rhyme was unintentional, but I’m leaving it in.) Reynolds was well known throughout the Musical community for her work on stage and in the classic “Singing in the Rain.”

As this last week of this insane year draws to a close, I want to encourage my readers to keep an optimistic outlook on the coming year. Who knows, 2017 may  just be the most exciting and impactful year in music we’ve seen in a long time! I mean, The Flaming Lips are starting us off with a new album next month, and I am definitely excited about that!

Can I Kick It?

After eighteen years, A Tribe Called Quest set aside their differences and presented us with their sixth studio album. “We Got it From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service” comes out swinging with the social commentary of the modern day while maintaining the feel of 90’s hip-hop of the group’s hay day.

Aside from frequent contributors like Busta Rhymes and Consequence, this latest albums features Andre 3000, Talib Kweli, Jack White, Anderson Paak, and even Elton John! This album came as a bit of a surprise since the group long said that 1998’s “The Love Movement” was their final album. However, after all that’s been going on in the world, the group felt collective change.

The title “We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service” was chosen by the group’s late member Phife Dawg, and even though the other members aren’t clear on it’s meaning, they decided to keep it in his honor. They even honored him during their Saturday Night Live performance with a drop-down poster featuring his face.

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A Tribe Called Quest performing “We The People” on Saturday Night Live

Every track on this two part album is fantastic. No, really, it is! From the lyrics calling for an end to hate and encouraging coming together, to the cool and smooth beats throughout, this album is easily one of the best of the year.

I’ve pretty much had it on regular rotation since it came out on the eleventh of this month. I’ll even go as far as to say it’s my favorite hip-hop album of the year. It’s that good. Whether or not this turns out to be their actual final album remains to be seen, but it’s a great one for sure.

“We’ve Got it From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service” is available to stream on Apple Music and Spotify, but I would definitely encourage you to support the group by purchasing it as well.