Thank you, Chester.

I remember the first time I heard Linkin Park. I was still living at home, watching MTV – back then they did something unheard of now – AIR MUSIC VIDEOS. And I heard this song, this really loud, loud, song. I looked up at the screen and I saw this intense looking young man, with bleach blonde spikes (it was the early 00s..a lot of dudes did that to their hair), brown eyes but with this stare and intensity that has yet been unmatched to me with any other singer. He lip synced, “Everything you say to me takes me one step closer to the edge and I’m about to break.” And from that moment on, I was hooked. He sang everything I was feeling. I was a broke graphic designer, who no one would listen to despite having an education. I was frustrated, angry, disappointed, and done with the world. Truth be told, that’s not too far from how I’m feeling now but that is beside the point. He was angry. I was angry. He was frustrated. I was frustrated. I watched this very very weird conceptual video and waited to see who the band was.

Linkin Park.

My first thought was that they were from DC, because there is a Lincoln Park here, and they just changed the spelling to be cool. But there is pretty much a Lincoln Park everywhere in the US. My bad. I kept watching MTV that night because I KNEW at some point, they’d show the video again (remember, this is when MTV knew that the M stood for “music” in their name). And rest assured, they did air the video again and I watched it. I was fascinated with the visual imagery, and the lyrics spoke to every young person who was just fed up with life, and what little it had to offer. “One Step Closer” was the name of the song. I learned all the words and sang along every time I saw the video. I just couldn’t get over how melodic the song was yet so dark, so heavy. Everything made sense lyrically. And there was no turning back for me. I later did a search for the band, and found the band names online.

Chester Bennington.

He was my everything. His voice was so strong, so hard, and passionate. You could hear the pain in his voice, the anguish, yet sound so gentle at times. I honestly hadn’t heard of any voice like that since Chris Cornell (and yes, I see how creepy this comparison would become). The name of their album was Hybrid Theory. Songs like “Crawling,” “In the End,” “Runaway,” spoke to many people my age – pain, isolation, frustration, and not knowing if there was going to be a light at the end of a very dark – for many extremely dark – tunnel. Listening to Chester’s voice was comforting, even when he was screaming his heart out. The fans got it. They got the lyrics. They got his personality. And so did I. Chester was such a commanding presence on stage. And he got our attention. Each and every time. His music was a way of battling and overcoming his previous demons in life. I had no idea Chester was molested as a kid, and it explained so much behind his actions from that point on (drugs, alcohol, etc). But from where fans were standing, he seemed to have his act together. And the music seemingly proved it. Seemingly, being the main word.

From Hybrid to Meteora, A Thousand Suns, and so on, Chester gave us his all. Some songs were not pretty, and they weren’t supposed to be. They were a way of cleaning out a toxic system that had a negative effect on his life. And fans were along for the ride. For those coping with similar demons, or other demons, Linkin Park and Chester were are saviors. No one else understood, but LP got it. Even though their musical style changed dramatically with this recent album, “One More Light,” the lyrics remained true – fight, battle, tooth and nail if you have to – to overcome things keeping you down. I can respect that, even if the music behind the lyrics sounded like the everyday dance pop you hear on the radio (a bone of contention from old school LP fans like myself). We still loved LP though, no matter what.

Finding out on July 20th, 2017, that Chester Bennington took his own life left me and millions of fans heartbroken, confused, hurt, and pissed. We don’t understand why someone with so much promise and still had a LOT to offer to the music world, took his life. I believe the demons that he fought for SO long, took over and the pain was just much too great to bear. I understand. I’m dealing with quite a few myself. I understand the route to take to end it. But he was so loved, by his wife and family, and the band, and friends, and fans… it’s just hard in that regard to wrap my brain around it. I guess I never really will. Nor will the rest of fans.

So. I hope Chester found peace. I hope he knows he was loved by so so many people. I hope he will watch over not just LP members and his family, but fans too. Because we love him. Always will. He helped us. I just wish we could’ve helped him in return.

RIP Chester. You will always be in our hearts. Your star will most definitely shine bright everywhere.

chester

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Throwback Thursday Album (a few days late): Sheryl Crow’s “Sheryl Crow”

SHERYL CROW LP 1996

 

I haven’t always been a fan of Sheryl Crow.

I’m going to date myself here but when Tuesday Night Music Club dropped, I wasn’t particularly fond of “Leaving Las Vegas.” It was slow sounding, and back then I was still a rap and hip hop head listening to WuTang Clan, Biggie, with the few rock bands that snuck into my tape (yes I was around for tapes) collection – Red Hot Chili Peppers, R.E.M, The Black Crowes, etc. These were all artists that kept me awake, alert, and entertained. And I wasn’t thrilled with Sheryl’s voice overall. The, like most teens my age, “All I Wanna Do” dropped, and I instantly changed my tune towards her. It was fast, funny, and had a great melody. Pretty much pop rock gold, which turned into platinum for her. Followed by “Can’t Cry Anymore” and I was pretty much hooked.

Then her second album, “Sheryl Crow,” finally arrived. I remember vividly ordering the tape from our campus store (which stopped selling cassettes and instead sold cds for EVERY artist) and once it arrived, I was completely blown away with it. She produced it, which back then and now for that matter – for a woman to produce her own music – pretty much unheard of  unfortunately. While Bill Botrell was behind the debut album production, this one was Sheryl. Plus 1. It was filled with just absolute greatness. I can’t say back in 1996 offhand that every cassette I owned was great from beginning to end, but THIS album my dear friends was. Every song to me, was a potential single, and every song had a message, hiding behind the pop rock and the quirky sound effects. The melodies worked extremely well with her voice and the lyrics were simple yet effective. And let’s face it on a “A Change Would Do You Good,” there were hand claps. I’m a fan of the hand claps. More songs need hand claps. That was a no brainer hit.

“If It Makes You Happy” to this day makes me laugh – not in a mean way, but the chorus kills me. “If It makes you happy, it can’t be that bad. If It makes you happy then why the hell are you so sad?” Why does it kill me? Because this chorus reigns true to life to this day, 21 years later. Things that make people happy should make us happy, not sad. If it makes us sad, then we shouldn’t continue to do things that make us sad. It’s just that simple. Plus 2. I also love the fact that while she sings the chorus, it comes completely across as shouting to me – as if she was trying to drive the idea home. I hear ya Sheryl. I hear ya. Even my mom thought this was a hit and she doesn’t like anyone.

Another favorite of mine, “Sweet Rosalyn,” is about a woman who keeps her head above water, working just enough to get by but she needs something to keep her going, to continue the fight, to keep her moving forward as they say. My favorite line is “Well, maybe we all could use a little grace to know when to run and when to stay in one place.” It’s not a long song lyrically, but it still makes an impact with the instrumentation. Between the slide, the dobro, and twangy guitars, I was pretty much sold on this one. Sheryl throws down on this one y’all. Check out this video of it.

 

 

I will always support Sheryl because I remember her fighting with Walmart in regards to the song, “Love is a Good Thing.” For those who don’t know, there’s a lyric about kids who use guns they purchased at Walmart. At that time, it was very true. And Walmart didn’t take too kindly to her statement (despite the stories hitting the news revealing where the guns came from) and removed her album from the stores. She stood firm though, and she didn’t give in. That to me, was completely awesome. And fierce. You rule Sheryl. She wanted it to be known that we need to do something about gun control. She sings it so nonchalantly but in doing so, made a big statement. Plus 3.

The opener, “Maybe Angels” is the song that kicked off my love for this album…the piano in particular. It just sounds so weird with the guitar riff that it fits. So weird. But it fits. And the subject matter about not being able to feel angels, but they are around. “I swear they’re out there, I swear…” It’s a mid tempo toe tapper (Say that FIVE times fast. I dare you. It’s ok. I’ll wait.” She finds angels to be mysterious, but she knows..she has a feeling…that the unexplained..can only be answered by angels. The rockers who have passed away, they’re coming back too. Ok, Sheryl. I believe you.

I won’t go on and on, but this is truly a great album. From beginning to end, it entertains, and you hear something different with each listen. AND she broke the dreaded second album slump AND the “Best New Artist” curse that hits many after winning a Grammy. Thank you Sheryl for releasing a perfect pop gem. My ears thank you as well.

 

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Podcast #43. Electric Boogie..

Fellow Earbudders,

I’m back with another one right before the end of the year. I don’t know if I’ll make another year ender podcast, but stay tuned for my favorite 30 albums of 2015 post. It’s a doozy.. Until then, enjoy this show of dance, shakin’, and lovin’…

Click it.. click it!!! CLICK ITTTTTT!

Podcast #43

 

podcast 43.2015.collagerowof5withpics

Uma Thurman (feat. Wiz Khalifa) [Remix] – Fall Out Boy
Do What You Wanna Do (MYNC Radio Edit) – Nile Rodgers
Indestructible (feat. DBX) – Armin van Buuren
Temptation – Escort
Keep On (feat. Green Velvet) – Catz ‘N Dogz
In the Wild – Capital Kings
Til The Money Runs Out – !!!
We Are Not Alone (Fei-Fei Remix) – Basement Jaxx
When You See Me – Computer Magic
Pay My Rent – DNCE
We Continue – Dam-Funk
Milky Way – Air Waves
The First Heartbreak – Matthew Ryan
No Liars – Matthew Good
Life Is a Fear – Editors
Life is Long – Laura Stevenson
Philip the Engineer – JR JR
Smoke Around the Bend – Small Black
Happy Song – Bring Me the Horizon

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Podcast #41… Better Late than Never

Hello fellow earbudders,

I know, it’s long overdue. But here is the latest installment of my podcast. The last few months have been hard on me and I haven’t had a chance really to devote time to create a proper podcast – until now. But I haven’t abandoned my fellow music fanatics. So here is a mix of good things. Your ears will thank you for listening, as do I. As usual, you can click on the picture for a larger version. And here’s the setlist. Enjoy, share, and y’all come back now y’hear? I’ll be back next month with a new show.

Download here:

 

podcast 41.2015.collagerowof5withpics
Intro Song: (Feel Like) I Know Nothin’  – Antigone Rising
Big Dater – Big Data
Bitter – Atmosphere
Centuries – Fall Out Boy
Without You (feat. Room8) – Electric Youth
Wicked Campaign – Modest Mouse
No Apologies (feat. Jussie Smollett, Yazz) – Empire Cast
Screaming At A Wall – Minor Threat
Pale Shelter (Feat. Tegan and Sara) – Matthew Dear
Stirred Up – Matt and Kim
Invincible – Kelly Clarkson
How You Got That Girl – Ex Hex
Darker Than Blood (Feat. Linkin Park) – Steve Aoki
Lifted Up (1985) – Passion Pit
Blame (feat. John Newman) – Calvin Harris
Good Help (Is So Hard to Find) – Death Cab For Cutie
Don’t Wanna Fight – Alabama Shakes
This Ain’t Me – Augustines
Rooftops – Sick Of Sarah
Raging Squall – Brown Bird
Shattered Winds – The Budos Band

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Last Podcast of the Year. Short Mix. 2014

 

 

2014pusheen.IGHey earbudders,

Just wanted to say thanks for listening to me this year. I appreciate it. I made this very mini mix of some of my favorite songs of this year. Enjoy! See you next year, which is in a few hours! I’ll get the songlist in later. I just wanted to get this up before midnight. Can’t wait to see what next year has in store for music.

 

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2014 Favorite Albums of the Year! Yay!

Well fellow earbuds, another year is about to come to a close. It was full of good music, and bad. But mostly good. I tried to soak as much of it in as I possibly could but as a fellow colleague of mine told me that I try to remember on the daily, “there’s no way you can listen to every song on your ipod in a day.” I really do keep that in mind as new albums come my way. And I’m sure I will have missed a few gems that I will kick myself for in the next few months. And it wouldn’t be me unless I share with you my personal list of great albums that came across my pod this year. Let it be known these aren’t the “BEST” albums of 2014 because there are just way too many that would fall into that category. This is just a list of my favorites that weren’t too shabby in a year full of radio filler. I’ll make a separate list of singles later. For now, here are the albums. Remember, these are just my particular favorites. They held my attention for more than just one run through in my ipod. I’m sure some will disagree, and that’s fine. And really, it doesn’t matter. Because it’s MY list. Enjoy earbudders.

 

Sirens (Deluxe Version)

1. Gorgon City – Sirens. Just enough dance that makes me want to care and just enough divadom to make me shake it and break it. There is enough here for everyone who enjoys dance and electronic music. I wish more music was like this. It doesn’t matter if this is played in your living room, or on your ipod, or iphone with headphones. It is good quality music.

 

The London Sessions

2. Mary J. Blige – The London Sessions. The queen of hip-hop soul delivers strongly on this one. A mix of r&b and house music, this is really what I’ve been waiting for from her. Changing with the times, she worked with Sam Smith and Disclosure, two of my particular favorite Brit artists to create a refreshing makeover of her voice and sound. This album makes me remember why she’s the queen. All hail.

 

Mind Over Matter

3. Young the Giant – Mind Over Matter. I wasn’t a huge fan of YTG’s previous album but I completely changed my mind with this one. This was one of my first favorites of the new year. They combine pop with a little bit of groove behind them. I was pleasantly surprised. There is not one bad song on this album. Nice job guys.

 

Tough Love

4. Jessie Ware – Tough Love. One of the best r&b albums that really wasn’t labeled as an r&b album. You can hear the pain and desperation and loneliness in her voice, backed with slow and melodic beats. She reveals the ups and downs and love and everything in between.

 

Sistrionix

5. Deap Vally – Sistronix. One of the best rock albums I’ve heard this year. This sister duo make Jack White sound obsolete. A mix of garage rock, songs about life, money, and struggles, and you have a great listen. Turn the volume up on this one. Loudly.

 

Lead To Light

6. Nico Vega – Lead to Light. A mix of rock and 80s synths, this one is a no brainer. The lead vocalist, is loud, scratchy, and very reminiscent of Patty Smythe. There are enough radio friendly keepers to keep your attention at will. It’s a fun album about love and life.

 

Sound Of A Woman

7. Keiza – Sound of a Woman. This woman is like a little kid on coffee, candy, and red bull when performing – loud clothes, dance moves, etc. An excellent voice with beats to match. Throw this one on at a party and watch the ones standing in the corner finally get the stick out of their asses and move.

sam-smith-in-the-lonely-hour-track-list-album-cover

8. Sam Smith – In the Lonely Hour. There is something about white boy blue eye soul that is just easy on the ears. He’s another one where you can hear the disappointment of love lost forever. You just want to hug him and reassure him that everything will be ok in time. We’ve all been there.

 

Sonic Highways

9. Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways. Once again, Dave Grohl and the boys deliver. The album only has 8 songs but enough rock power and hutzpah to blow out every Marshall speaker on the planet.

 

Annie Mac Presents 2014 [Explicit]

10. Annie Mac – Annie Mac Presents 2014. The one DJ on this list who knows what works for dance heads like myself. This album is a very nice compilation of unknowns and knowns in the electronic/house/dance world. It flows nicely and leaves me wanting a lot more.

 

Hey Hey

11. Mapei – Hey Hey. She made a splash on the scene with her song, “Don’t Wait,” but this whole album is pretty stellar, with a mixture of dance, and heavy on percussion with a message of positivity (“Change” among one of the standouts). It’s an album you can listen to anywhere in any mood and she’ll put a smile on your face. She reminds me a lot of Nenah Cherry. She also reminds me of a female Andre 3000. She wasn’t afraid to use horns and go a little crazy with production when necessary.

 

Royal Blood

12. Royal Blood – Royal Blood. Crunchy guitars, loud vocals, and frustration towards life. Great combination. There are times this sounds like a 70s throwback band, where the music is battling against the vocals for superiority. It’s sad that in the gazillion bands I hear played on the radio, that this band seems to be omitted. Get on that rock radio.

 

Goddess

13. Banks – Goddess. The voice of an angel, the soothing beats of downtempo r&b. I truly fell in LOVE with this album this past year.

 

Transgender Dysphoria Blues

14. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Another favorite of mine, Laura Jean Grace and the boys deliver a short, to the point, punk rock album full of ball bustin’ roller coaster emotion.

 

The Veronicas

15. The Veronicas – The Veronicas. Canadian twins deliver an album of all of the place styles. It’s a great pop mix of dance, new wave, rock, and a little rap. They were quite the surprise late in the year.

 

Days & Nights

16. Daley – Days & Nights. Yet another Brit singer throwing down in r&b land with a very unique voice that is easy to listen to whether you are winding down after a hard day’s work or going for a nice drive to clear the head.

 

JHUD

17. Jennifer Hudson – JHUD. One of the overlooked albums of the year. It really upsets me that she never gets the credit she deserves. This album delivers and has something for everyone. Her voice is truly from heaven. Whether it’s straight up r&b, pop, or dance, or singing with a live band, Jennifer Hudson is truly the gem music is made of.

 

Year Of The Caprese

18. Cherub – Year of the Caprese. I swear this album sounds like it was made in their bedroom. Some songs are very minimalistic in delivery. And some are just rip roaring on the dancefloor and break something jams. Trust me when I say you won’t be disappointed.

 

St. Vincent

19. St. Vincent – St. Vincent. A little hip-hop, a little synth, a little rock, and make for a very enjoyable album. Well done, Annie.

 

Language & Perspective

20. Bad Suns – Language and Perspective. Loud pop rock with insights about life. Can’t go wrong.

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

Globalization

1. Pitbull – Globalization. Say what you want about him, but this boy can spit. Only he does it backed by a party beat. He wants everyone to have a good time, while also boast his bragadocial wordplay to the females. I find it entertainingly amusing. With all the crap hip-hop out there, and all the so called bosses rapping about weed, and women, and sex, and yada yada yada, I’d much rather listen to someone getting me off the couch and on the dance floor. Keep doing your thing Armando. And thank you for pulling your pants up.

 

Trick

2. Kele – Trick. Yes, the lead singer of Bloc Party released another solo album. You didn’t know? Yes, he did. And it’s good. In fact, I wish BP would do more albums like this. He has the right vocal delivery with electronic support to make it likable without it wearing on you like many electronic albums do after a period of time. The album isn’t too long, and it’s not too short in length which is always good for me. Be a little open minded and check him out.

 

CUT 4 ME

3. Kelela – Cut 4 Me. I thoroughly enjoyed this mix of rap and r&b. It was quite the standout in a lackluster year of rap – just in my own opinion.

 

glitter mob

4. The Glitch Mob – Love Death Immortality. This is another album I thought was overlooked for the year. Great beats. Great rhythms. Great everything.

 

TALKING IS HARD

5. Walk the Moon – Talking is Hard. This whole album sounds like an 80s arena rock anthem throwback set to new wave dance/rock music. Another diamond in the rough.

 

Black Messiah

6. D’angelo and the Vanguard – Black Messiah. I added this last minute. I also added this not so much because the album is good. I’ve listened to it three times now and I can honestly say, I only like half of it if that much. But I’m so glad this talent in neo soul r&b has returned. I had pretty much written him off after his drug issues and car crash some years ago. But that write off was off the table once I saw him perform online at Jay-Z’s Made in America Festival. I thought there was hope. Well, there was hope. I just wish the whole album was as good as the bits and pieces I liked. But welcome back D. You have sorely been missed.

 

That’s it for me for albums of the year kids… next up. My favorite songs of the year. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

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Podcast #38. The No-Namer. I just Want You to Listen.

Hey, kids, rock n’ roll…

Here’s another show for you. New stuff, not so new, but probably new to you. I hope it sounds as good to you as it did to me as I made it. Enjoy.

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podcast1.2014.#381collagerowof5withpics

Lessons – SOHN
Earth Is Speeding -The Vaselines
SH09 Is Back – Lamb
Simple As This – Jake Bugg
Can’t Take It Back – Lissie
Honey – Royal Teeth
Bad Blood – Taylor Swift
My Blue Supreme – Interpol
Fuck Em Only We Know – Banks
Don’t Wake Me – Robots Don’t Sleep
Girls – Santigold
Talking – September Girls
Lucky G1rl – Shaka Ponk
Hurts Like Heaven – Shearwater
Something’s Missing – Sheppard
Amour t’es lá? – Snarky Puppy (with Magda Giannikou)
Wicked Waters – Benjamin Booker
Everything Turns to Grey – Agent Orange
Minnie The Moocher -Robbie Williams

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