January 16th, 2012 by Tim Wardyn
Everybody, I need help. Not that kind of help (at least not yet). I’m compiling a list of the greatest songs of the 90’s to pitch to record companies for what I consider to be the most complete 90’s collection ever. This is not the 20 greatest songs, or greatest “alternative” or “hip hop” or “country-ish” songs. I’m talking about the 60-75 greatest songs of the 90’s on a 4-5 disc collection. And I need your help. I have a list that I’ve started (which is subject to change), but I know I’m missing a lot of tracks. The only criteria I have is that the song must have been released as a single in the 1990s. It doesn’t have to be the most popular (like “If I Am” by Nine Days is one of my favorites) and it will not include more than one song for an artist. I’m not looking for the biggest or campiest (like Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” or “Whoomp! There It Is” by Tag Team), but the best. And these won’t be remade by someone no one has heard of. These will be the original songs. At the bottom is my abbreviated list that will probably change a lot until I make a final “master” list. Please leave your submissions in the comments because, like I said, I need all the help I can get. I’ll keep all of you updated right here. Thank you in advance!
Nine Days “If I Am,” Montell Jordan “This is How We Do It,” The Wallflowers “6th Avenue Heartache,” The Notorious B.I.G feat. Mase and Puff Daddy “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems,” Harvey Danger “Flagpole Sitta,” Blur “Song 2,” Everclear “Santa Monica,” Better Than Ezra “Good,” The Verve “Bitter Sweet Symphony,” The Verve Pipe “The Freshmen,” Cake “The Distance,” Smashing Pumpkins “Tonight, Tonight,” Foo Fighters “Everlong,” Rage Against the Machine “Bulls on Parade,” The Offspring “Come Out and Play,” Primitive Radio Gods “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth (With Money in My Hands),” Red Hot Chili Peppers “Otherside,” Green Day “Basket Case,” Weezer “Buddy Holly,” Big Punisher feat. Joe “Still Not a Player”
What did I forget? Let me know!
January 12th, 2012 by Tim Wardyn
What would the BoDeans sound like with only one singer? Well, take a listen to the more gravely-voiced Sam Llanas’ latest solo album and you’ll find out. There is nothing ground-breaking, but it does have its moments. The title track is a haunting and personal song that cuts right to your soul with the sparse, but intense sound.
He also makes Cyndi Lauper’s “All Through the Night” sound more rustic, almost as if it is being played in a smoky back alley bar in Mexico. Utterly gorgeous.
That’s the album in a nutshell. Llanas’ sparse solo sound (mainly his voice, guitar and various percussion) makes 4 A.M. more intimate (and better) than anything that the BoDeans have done. That’s saying something considering the duo has been around for almost 30 years.
January 10th, 2012 by Tim Wardyn
Out in the Light
Former Port O’Brien front man Van Peirszalowski (that has to be a Polish name) makes his debut under the name Waters with a sound that is rough and DIY sounding with a strong mix of indie-rock. The title track could easily fit on both rock and Top 40 stations. Instantly catchy, it captures the essence of what independent music was back when it was still underground: Raw, rough and undeniably brilliant. From the fuzzed-out guitars of “Back to You” to the absolutely gorgeous closer “Mickey Mantle,” Waters is one of those bands that you brag to your friends about liking before they became big. They are that good.
January 9th, 2012 by Tim Wardyn
Cosmic Ocean Ship
City Zen Records
Mia Doi Todd’s 9th album reminds me of a worldly Sade. Her voice is effervescent and vulnerable, but touches upon on angelic. This is one of those albums that you sit back, sip on your coffee or tea and just smile. Tracks like the heavenly “Under the Sun” and “Skipping Stones” are like an audio bong. You become so relaxed that you forget where you are, what you are doing and you drift off into the clouds with Todd’s voice leading you deeper and deeper into the atmosphere until you become putty in her hands. By the end of “Gracias a la Vida,” she carefully puts you back in your chair, with your beverage in hand and leaves you refreshed and ready for the day. “CosmicOcean Ship” will take you on a journey where you leave all your cares and troubles at the door and come out the other end a new person. Mia Doi Todd is one of the best new artists (for me) and this is one of the most beautiful albums of the year; bar none.
January 8th, 2012 by Tim Wardyn
Sick Im Kid Music
Upon first listening to the fourth album from Dub Trio, I realized right from the beginning only one thing: These three guys are three of the most talented musicians I’ve heard in a long time. On the opening track alone, “En Passant,” drummer Joe Tomino sounds like he’s playing three separate drum beats that are layered one upon another. Bassist Stu Brooks lays the foundation with an assault rivaled by few, while Dave “DP” Holmes makes the guitar scream with equal parts John Frusciante and Jack White. The further you get into the album, however, you realize they don’t quit, they just morph. From the almost speed metal intro of “Swarm,” they drop to a pulse midway through and make your heartbeat sync with theirs. It’s simply amazing. This album is one of the best (and is the most unique) metal albums of the year.
January 6th, 2012 by Tim Wardyn
Saddle Creek Records
Maria Taylor knows how to make an entrance. Her sophomore album begins with the simmering-to-boiling-over “Masterplan,” leaving listeners frothing for more. You can’t help but get sucked in and then blown away. The drums carry the sound like a wave that is just starting to crest andTaylorrides it with her voice like Kelly Slater. And that’s just the first four-and-a-half minutes! The rest of the album is instantly catchy and sticks with you begging you to listen again. Then when you do, you notice the subtle instrumentations and background vocals that make this album so remarkable and keep you coming back. I hear something different every time I listen. It’s the instant hooks that reel you in and the understated soul that endear it to you. This is one of the best solo albums of the year.
January 4th, 2012 by Tim Wardyn
The Kora Records
I’ll be honest, this album was the first time I had heard anything by Meredith Bragg. I know, he’s a critic’s darling and most folksy types love him, but me; I’ve been out of the loop. Man, was I missing out. His new album “Nest” is the perfect combination of acoustic folk and indie-rock with hints of electronica.
“One True Love” and “Next Time” (with the heart-wrenching line, “Next time, I won’t let you go”) ooze with hints at his recently-born daughter. But not everything is so warm and fuzzy. “Birds of North America” was inspired by legendary bird-watcher John James Audubon, while Renaissance architecture gets the acoustic treatment on “The Last Hours of Brunelleschi.”
Bragg knows how to tug at your heart-strings, but he also knows how to get into the human soul. Even the last song (which is under a minute), “Waltz No. 3” is an acoustic beauty that sounds like it was pulled straight off of his sophomore record “Silver Sonya.”
I can’t believe that it has taken me this long to hear the gorgeous work of Meredith Bragg. And this album will turn anyone into a fan. Anyone with taste that is.
January 2nd, 2012 by Tim Wardyn
Clenched Wrench Records
Seminal bassist Mike Watt has been a part of numerous collaborations, but Spielgusher has to be the strangest yet. This quartet (featuring Yuko Araki on drums, Hirotaka “Shimmy” Shimizu on guitar and Richard Meltzer on vocals with Watt) basically features 63 short diatribes by Meltzer and the other three just wrap some music around it. It’s as if Christopher Walken sat down, told a bunch of really short stories and then set it to music. Many of these are barely a minute long with lines like “My heart is a lump of lard in my throat/ Don’t do the Heimlich/ You’ll kill me” (from the less-than-30-second “Lard”) and it flows like sewage. I get the strange suspicion that this would be much better if you were on some hard drugs. After many of the tracks, I find myself shaking my head and asking, “What?? That means absolutely nothing!” And with tracks like “Tropic of Nipples,” “Geezerology,” “A Nonfatal Jackoff on the Moon,” “Whistle While You Strobe” and the wonderfully titled “F*** My Sister,” I become even more convinced that there is a need for chemicals just to get anything out of this.
Spielgusher sound like they were screwing around in the studio for a few days and then threw it together on an album. Watt’s music is almost always a little left-of-center, but this collaboration is insane. The music is decent, but Meltzer sounds like a senile old coot with dementia rambling about whatever is on his mind while the nurses just shake their heads. Only the bravest of the brave should venture here.
December 31st, 2011 by Tim Wardyn
Heads Up International
From the man who helped create the “jazz fusion” genre comes another dynamite album that proves why he is a master at the genre he created. Since 1977, Lorber (both solo and with his Fusion) has been releasing some of the most innovative sounds around, culminating in a Grammy-nomination on his last album “Now is the Time.” This time, he takes all 11 tracks and cranks the energy up from the seven-minute opener “Live Wire” to the closer “The Underground” (which features a stellar Randy Brecker), the Jeff Lorber Fusion are firing on all cylinders.
I have to admit, this entire genre sounds like something you’d hear in a hotel lobby, or when you’re on hold while waiting for that corporation to pay attention to you. It’s not my thing. What I do know, however, is that Jeff Lorber (and his Fusion) just keeps adding to his legend. Mashing R&B, rock, funk and a hint of electronica onto a bed of jazz, Lorber and the crew have made leisure music even people like me can enjoy.
December 19th, 2011 by Tim Wardyn
The Lost Children
You’ve heard the sound. Hard guitars, occasional double bass drums and the unmistakably grab-you-by-the-throat-and-scream-in-your-face voice of David Draiman. Chances are you either like them or don’t. There is no middle ground with hard rock groups, especially ones with a lead singer who’s voice is instantly recognizable. If you don’t like them, you can stop reading. You won’t agree with this review. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Okay, now for the rest of you, this is just like any other Disturbed album. The only difference is that these songs are a collection of bonus tracks and the like from the past three albums. But it sounds just like any other Disturbed album. Pulsating rhythms, crowd-indusing chants of “Hey!” (on the previously unreleased track “Mine”), smoking guitar riffing and of course Draiman’s nightmare-indusing vocals.
The first single “Hell” is on par with some of their best songs like “Prayer” and “Stupify.” The rest of the album is decent, but after a while (just like the rest of their albums) the songs start sounding a lot alike. It’s not that they are bad, they are better than 90% of what’s playing on rock radio right now, they just sound a lot alike.
So, to answer the question: Is The Lost Children worth your increasingly hard-earned dollars? Yes. Even if you have to stop halfway through and come back, it’s better than almost any other rock album out right now. Disturbed knows what they are good at and they prove it 16 times on this collection alone.