#30DaysofFavorites: Favorite Albums (6-1)

I’m celebrating turning 30 at the end of the month by posting a bunch of my favorite things on this blog and my YouTube channel. Today I’m finishing the countdown of my favorite albums. If you missed my Favorite Movie Moments, click here for the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth posts. If you missed my first Favorite Albums post, click here.

 

 

#6 – Full Moon Fever

Tom Petty

Full Moon

I think I ended up stealing my dad’s tape of this album when I was little, and played it over and over in my walkman. I listened to it again recently and didn’t remember much beyond the hits but Tom Petty was definitely one of my favorite artists growing up, and still is. So glad I was able to see him several times in concert before he passed away.

Favorite Track:
“Free Fallin'” was the first song I ever identified as being my “favorite song.” I don’t know exactly how old I was when I first saw Petty in concert (had to be maybe nine or ten) but I do remember staying up long enough to hear “Free Fallin'” and then immediately after falling asleep.

 

 

#5 – Bringing Down the Horse

The Wallflowers

Horse

This was the first album I ever owned. I saw the music video for “One Headlight” on MTV and instantly developed a crush on Jacob Dylan. Then when we were on a family trip to San Francisco, and my dad was doing some Christmas shopping, he asked me before going into the music store if there was any band I liked. I said I liked The Wallflowers, and so he bought me my first cd. I’m quite proud of little ten year old me for having such impeccable taste.

Favorite Track:
Though “One Headlight” will always hold a special place in my heart for introducing me to the band, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found myself more drawn to some of the B-tracks, like “Josephine.”

 

 

#4 – Speak Now

Taylor Swift

Speak

I mentioned in a previous post that I think Taylor Swift’s best songwriting shows up on her album Red but I think Speak Now is her most thematically cohesive, and it is my personal favorite. After burying my head in the sand for too long, I was shown the light and introduced to more of her music, particularlly this album. I loved the imagery depicted in her songs, and the fairytale life she was presenting through her music. The songwriting shows a little more maturity and demonstrates that its author has faced more of life’s disappointments. Despite all this, she still maintains a more whimsical view of the world. It’s kind of sweet to revisit the album now and see the world through the eyes of the unabashed dreamer she used to be.

Favorite Track:
“Better Than Revenge” is a song I don’t think I will ever hear Taylor Swift perform live. It’s her most unapologetic takedown of one of her “foes” and I love it for all the reasons she probably won’t ever revisit it. It’s harsh, and angry, and spiteful, and feels exactly like what you feel when you’ve been betrayed. It’s too politically incorrect for most listeners nowadays but man is it a fun revenge song to rock out to.

 

 

#3 – Talking is Hard

Walk the Moon

Talking

Walk the Moon was in the process of recording this album when I first discovered them. So this album feels more special to me because I got to see them before their big hit, and I got to experience their joy and excitement as they hit major success. Their latest album is much calmer in terms of mood, and that’s okay but I fell in love with this band because of their ridiculous high energy, and they delivered so much of that on this album.

Favorite Track:
One of the reasons I was so taken by Walk the Moon was because they played “Shut Up and Dance” at that Greek Theatre concert I mentioned in my last post, and they got the whole ampitheatre to get up and dance. As much as I love the finished recording, there is nothing quite like hearing that song live with hundreds of other fans singing along.

 

 

#2 – Death of a Bachelor

Panic! at the Disco

Death

It’s great to follow a band over the course of their career and see their different attempts at style changes and music shifts. It’s even better to see them succeed at these experimentations. Death of a Bachelor is the best Panic! at the Disco album to date. The sound of the songs is more self-assured and the lyrics are excellent. On top of that, the songs are also incredibly fun. It’s great to have music move you emotionally and speak to you on a deeper level but it’s also wonderful to want to dance to something energetic and fun. Death of a Bachelor loads itself with lots of upbeat, dance-worthy songs, and still gives some of those necessary emotional punches that you might be looking for.

Favorite Track:
“LA Devotee” is a love letter to the city of Los Angeles. Need I say more?

 

 

#1 – The Guest

Phantom Planet

Guest

This album is sixteen years old. As much as some of the other things on this list have made me feel older than I want to, this one makes me feel ancient, and it makes me feel the saddest. Phantom Planet was the first band I really discovered on my own and fell in love with. While some of the other bands on this list may have contributed to the soundtrack of my youth, Phantom Planet was the score I lived by. This band meant so much to me, and when they decided to no longer make music as “Phantom Planet,” it broke my heart. I had so many chances to see them perform live, and I will forever be grateful for being that lucky. I still love their music but now whenever I listen it’s sort of bittersweet knowing that they aren’t going to be releasing anything new together. Their music had a big impact on my life and I have enjoyed being their fan these last sixteen years.

Favorite Track:
I love all of these tracks so much but I’m going to have to go with the one that started it all. I first heard “California” on the radio one night when I was getting ready for bed. I was exhausted and about to turn it off when the song started playing. I was immediatley drawn in by that simple piano string at the begginning, and sat up in the dark, despite being ready to pass out, to hear the rest of the song. I bought the album soon after, and the rest, as they say, is history.

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#30DaysofFavorites: Favorite Albums (12-7)

I’m celebrating turning 30 at the end of the month by posting a bunch of my favorite things on this blog and my YouTube channel. Today I’m continuing the countdown of my favorite albums. If you missed my Favorite Movie Moments, click here for the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth posts. If you missed my first Favorite Albums post, click here.

 

 

#12 – One of the Boys

Katy Perry

One of the Boys

I saw Katy Perry guest judge on American Idol in 2010 (before her current role on the show), and I thought she was hilarious and insightful, while still being critical when necessary (something she didn’t really do on this last season of Idol). It was at that point that a friend of mine mentioned really liking her music that I gave her first album a listen. I’ve been a fan ever since and have had the pleasure of seeing her live several times.

Favorite Track:
“One of the Boys” is still my favorite track on the album. I love that it is a celebration of femininity, and embracing different sides of yourself.

 

 

#11 – Red

Taylor Swift

red

It took a while for me to warm up to Taylor Swift as an artist. I didn’t buy into her life philosophy and her obsession with falling in love. Then I actually started listening to her music, and really paying attention to her lyrics. I was hooked by the time Red came out, and I thought so many of the songs on this album were well crafted and showed tremendous growth for her as a musician. I still think it has her best songwrtiting, though there are a couple of duds (“I Almost Do” and “Sad, Beautiful, Tragic,” I’m looking at you). Overall though, it’s one of my favorite albums, and it was my favorite show of hers that I’ve been to.

Favorite Track:
I mentioned I think Taylor Swift showcases her best songwriting on this album, and I think “All Too Well” is her best written song to date. It is also my favorite of hers. Her word play on it is clever, and she paints such a vivd picture that it feels like you’re right there with her, reliving the memory of this relationship.

 

 

#10 – Walk the Moon

Walk the Moon

WTM

Walk the Moon was a pleasant discovery courtesy of a Panic! at the Disco concert. They were the opening band for a show I saw at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. They had such high energy and their songs were so dang catchy that I just couldn’t resist jumping up and dancing along. I of course immediately went home and bought their album (after actually listening to it via my friend’s Spotify on the way home from the concert). I still can’t help but feel energized and want to get up and dance around whenever I listen to this album.

Favorite Track:
So even though most of the album is high energy, and I like it because of that, my actual favorite track on the album is “Fixin'” which is a little sadder but with a good hook.

 

 

#9 – Vices & Virtues

Panic! at the Disco

vices

Panic! at the Disco is another band I resisted for a long time. I think in high school I found their use of the exclamation point in their name pretentious, and then the removing of it for the second album even more so. Still, I was blown away by their songwriting on Pretty. Odd. and followed them more closely afterwards. When Vices & Virtues came out, it was as though they had combined the best parts of the first two albums into one. It wasn’t quite the frentic rock of the first album but it had more energy than the songs on the second. It found the perfect balance between the two styles, and it had an overall more hopeful sound, which I love.

Favorite Track:
“Ready to Go (Get Me Out of My Mind)” is such a bouncy, uplifting song, and it feels like something you need to play whenever you want to get pumped up for something.

 

 

#8 – Raise the Dead

Phantom Planet

dead

Phantom Planet’s last album is ten years old this year. That makes me feel really old. The concept behind the album was to base a lot of the themes and marketing on cult followings. I was happy to be a part of that cult. While it isn’t the lowest energy album, a lot of the lyrics on it deal with much darker themes, such as depression. It was a bit of a break from some of their more happy love songs but I think it felt more personal. I don’t know the story behind every song, and as obsessed as I was with the band, I don’t know what all was happening at the time. However, it feels almost as though they knew things were coming to an end, and decided to write something deeper. That connected with me very much, and not simply because they were my favorite band but because of all their albums, this is the one I felt I could relate to the most.

Favorite Track:
The title track felt like a last chance call for fans to embrace the music, and “raise” it from the dead, which is maybe where the band felt they were heading while recording. It also touches upon an idea of an inner demon type of conflict (perhaps depression, or loneliness), and again an attempt to overcome that conflict. It is dark while still being hopeful.

 

 

#7 – Teenage Dream

Katy Perry

Dream

After finally becoming a fan of her first album, I was a bit skeptical when Katy Perry started releasing singles from her follow up album. They sounded a lot more poppy and there didn’t seem to be a trace of that punk rock girl that I liked so much from One of the Boys. Then, of course I listened to the album and realized I was actually a fan of Pop music. Or at least I was a fan of Katy Perry’s style of Pop. I think this is her best album musically, and thematically. She is a bonafide Pop star but she still writes her own music, and dang if it ain’t catchy as hell. Again I was impressed with her ability to surprise me and show me that just because it’s something different than what I usually listen to doesn’t mean it isn’t good, or worthy of my attention.

Favorite Track:
As much fun as I have with “Peacock,” I’m going to have to go with “Califoria Gurls.” As a California girl myself, I can’t help but sing and dance along to this song. It’s so fun and carefree, exactly how Southern California feels sometimes.

 

 

Stop by tomorrow to see the last batch of my Favorite Albums.

#30DaysofFavorites: Favorite Albums (18-13)

I’m celebrating turning 30 at the end of the month by posting a bunch of my favorite things on this blog and my YouTube channel. Today I’m continuing the countdown of my favorite albums. If you missed my Favorite Movie Moments, click here for the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth posts. If you missed my first Favorite Albums post, click here.

 

#18 – musicforthemorningafter
Pete Yorn

Pete Yorn

I’m a sucker for a good singer-songwriter, and Pete Yorn is a good singer-songwriter. Musicforthemorning after was released a little early for me to really follow when it was first out but the great thing about music is that you can pick it up at any point. This was another album that was a soundtrack for my high school years. It’s a slow, slightly downbeat set of songs, and makes for a very relaxing listen.

Favorite Track:
While “Murray” was my favorite for a long time, upon a recent re-listen, I think “Strange Condition” is the best track, and holds up really well seventeen years later.

 

 

#17 – Josie and the Pussycats
Josie and the Pussycats

Josie

Josie and the Pussycats is the greatest girl rock group that never was. I actually got the chance to see the original musicians perform at a screening last year when they released the vinyl, and it was thebestthingever! The movie was great, so much better than it deserved to be, and it was wonderful that they showed the same level of commitment to the music.

Favorite Track:
Backdoor Lover” by Dujour is definitely the best track on the album but I’ll provide my favorite Pussycats track as well, which is “I Wish You Well.”

 

 

 

#16 – Everybody Wants
The Struts

Strut

This band rocks, and if you aren’t currently listening to them, you’re doing something wrong in your life. They are straight up glam rock, and they are entirely unapologetic about it. They are a British band and so they haven’t gotten too much airplay in the US but they are so good! I’ve seen them live a couple of times now and they bring so much energy. Listen to them, and then go see them live. They’re that awesome.

Favorite Track:
“Could Have Been Me” is their US single, and still my favorite track off the album.

 

 

#15 – Gravity
Our Lady Peace

Gravity

So many of the albums on my list were ones from my high school years. This is another one. I discovered Our Lady Peace thanks to Fuse, back when all they played were music videos. I then bought the album, listened to it over and over, went to Tower Records and bought all their other albums and listened to them over and over. This of course was back when people actually bought music.

Favorite Track:
The whole album doesn’t necessarily hold up as well today but their first single, “Somewhere Out There” is just as good.

 

 

#14 – Pioneer
The Band Perry

Pioneer

For someone who didn’t like Country music for most of my adolescence I have quite a few Country albums on this list. The Band Perry is a bit more of a modern Country band than the other artists on this list but I love that they’re a family of performers. This album is full of great songs that range from more backyard country to some folksy sounds, so there’s a nice mix to listen to.

Favorite Track:
“Pioneer” is bittersweet, wistful, and melancholy all at once, which is why this title track is my favorite on the album.

 

 

#13 – The Education of a Wandering Man
Jamestown Revival

Jamestown

I believe this is the most recent addition to the list. I saw Jamestown Revival open for another band a couple of years ago and I was blown away by their sound and stage presence. They have a bluesy country vibe, and their music sounds like something you should be listening to while driving on the open road in some backcountry. I love it, and this is another band that you should be listening to right now.

Favorite Track:
“Journeyman” feels like the heart and soul of this album, and sounds like something you’d hear playing in a local bar in a small town right before it’s playing on the radio.

 

Check in tomorrow for the next batch of my Favorite Albums.

#30DaysofFavorites: Favorite Albums (24-19)

I’m celebrating turning 30 at the end of the month by posting a bunch of my favorite things on this blog and my YouTube channel. Today I’m continuing the countdown of my favorite albums. If you missed my Favorite Movie Moments, click here for the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth posts. If you missed my first Favorite Albums post, click here.

 

#24 – Pageant Material
Kacey Musgraves

Pageant

I mentioned in my previous post that I wasn’t always the biggest fan of Country music. Well, that has changed in the last few years. I find myself drawn to artists like Kacey Musgraves, who present a more mellow sound, and laid back feel to their music. Her music sounds very melancholy to me, and I love the mood it creates. Pageant Material is her second album, and while I love her first one, I think this one is a little more connected in terms of themes and sound.

Favorite Track:
“Dime Store Cowgirl” is a sweet little ditty that served as the second single off the album. It feels nostalgic and essentially delivers a message of staying true to your roots while still enjoying what’s happening in the now.

 

 

#23 – Hell on Heels
Pistol Annies

Hell

Speaking of Country artists and laid back, mellow sounds, the Pistol Annies is a new favorite of mine. I had never really listened to Miranda Lambert and was a little surprised to find that I liked her side project so much. I still haven’t heard much of her solo work but I’m a big fan of the darker themes she, Ashley Monroe, and Angaleena Presley cover as the Pistol Annies, and I love the harmonies the three of them create on both this album, and their follow up one, Annie Up.

Favorite Track:
The title track is still my favorite from this album, and a perfect introduction to what this band’s music is like.

 

 

#22 – Hot Fuss
The Killers

Hot Fuss

If The All-American Rejects were the soundtrack to my senior year of high school, The Killers were the soundtrack to my sophomore year. They had such a unique sound that perfectly synthesized rock with pop electronic, and I was instantly hooked. I haven’t followed them too closely over the years but I kind of “re-discovered” them about a year ago. I’m kicking myself now because they continued to produce great music, so I have a lot of catching up to do.

Favorite Track:
“Mr. Brightside,” the first single is still my favorite track on the album but “Spaceman” from their third album, Day & Age, is my all-time favorite Killers song.

 

#21 – Rooney
Rooney

rooney

Rooney was a local band that should have gone farther than they did/have. I know that Robert Schwartzman is still making music but the band lineup has changed, and the subsequent albums haven’t hit as big as the first. I hope he continues to record new material because I like what I’ve heard from him thus far, and especially love the first album. It has a 60ish pop rock sound with a little bit of 2000s alternative thrown in, and every track on the album feels like they belong together, making it a very satisfying, and cohesive listening experience.

Favorite Track:
“I’m a Terrible Person” is a fun, upbeat song, and is hilarious when you actually listen to the lyrics, which is why it’s my favorite track off the album.

 

 

#20 – Release Me
The Like

The Like

Another Southern California band that I think should have gotten much more exposure than they did. I discovered them thanks to a number of concerts in which they opened for another favorite band of mine. I like their first album, and I have all of their EPs but this album was perfect in my mind. They sounded (and looked) like a 60s pop girl group on this one, and less like the indie alternative band of their first album (which wasn’t bad). Still bums me out whenever I listen to either album that they weren’t more successful.

Favorite Track:
The first track on the album, “Wishing He Were Dead” is a rather sweet sounding pop song with some fairly dark lyrics from a jilted girlfriend planning a bit of revenge on an unfaithful boyfriend.

 

 

#19 – Tyrannosaurus Hives
The Hives

Hives

This may be the shortest album on my list. It comes in at just under 30 minutes but it is a pure adreniline rush from start to finish. The Hives are a great live band. They take that energy they put into their albums, and they really put on a show. They don’t just stand up there and play, they run around, they interact with the audience, and when I saw them, their guitarist split his finger open (and broke his guitar string) from playing too hard. I could have picked any of their albums for this slot but I chose this one because I think of all of them, it is the most energetic.

Favorite Track:
“Walk Idiot Walk” is the longest track on the album, and the most traditional, which makes sense that it was the lead single.

 

Swing by tomorrow for the next batch of my Favorite Albums.

Discovery of the Week: The Civil Wars

Welcome back!

I’m cheating a little because my new discovery is actually something I “discovered” a few months ago. This week I’m talking about The Civil Wars.

IMG_9574.JPG

The Civil Wars is a band (or duo, I suppose is more accurate) that would best be described as Country artists. Joy Williams and John Paul White are the two songwriting members that form the group. I first heard of them when they teamed up with Taylor Swift for the song, “Safe & Sound,” which was featured on The Hunger Games soundtrack.

Back in September (2013) I went to a trivia night for a networking event. The team I was on won third place and the prize was a goody bag full of DVDs, CDs, and even a few LPs. I happened to take a bunch of the unwanted music home (my teammates picked out what they liked and were just going to leave the rest, so I went ahead and claimed it), and in that pile was The Civil Wars CD, The Civil Wars. It took me a while to finally get around to listening to it, and after the holiday break I decided to put it in the CD player in my car.

I absolutely love it! They have a bit of a gospel vibe mixed with old school Country roots. It’s a little dark and moody, and I love both of their voices. Sadly they recently called it quits. I’m not sure what happened (probably “artistic differences”) but I’m glad they made this album when they did. I understood immediately why there music was featured on The Hunger Games soundtrack. It sounds somewhat dystopian and bluesy. It fits right in with the atmosphere of District 12.