• The 15 most influential albums on my life

    Ago 28 2010, 3h56

    I saw this thing where you think up the 15 albums that most changed your life. I used to do this sort of thing a lot 5+ years ago, but then I got last.fm to keep track of my music habits for me. It doesn't so much keep track of albums or tell the story behind my taste, so let's see what I can come up with:

    1. Kate Bush - Hounds of Love: There is no other album I've played more in my entire life.

    2. Dream Theater - Images and Words: Some of my favorite heavy metal. I got into this album a month before I proposed to Lissy. I was obsessed with it for a very long time, and still am a little bit.

    3. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs: It's only been out a month, but it's set me on a firestorm of music enjoyment. I've played it straight through over 30 times so far.

    4. Queen - Innuendo: It's the album that got me into Queen and basically set me on the path to finding David Bowie.

    5. David Bowie - Scary Monsters: An edgy masterpiece which helped me feel better when I was feeling angsty. It's still amazing.

    6. Nicole Atkins - Neptune City: On the strength of one album (so far), I've wound up seeing her more times live than anyone (by a lot) and even using one of her covers as my first dance at my wedding.

    7. A Fine Frenzy - Bomb in a Birdcage: My favorite album to come out in 2009. I use the handle "Friendzie" on some online games now because of my obsession with this album. Her first is also very good.

    8. Tori Amos - To Venus and Back: My obsession with some of the tracks on this album is what led me to my most played artist, Kate Bush. The songs Lust and Bliss basically opened me up to exploring more female artists. My charts are now full of women.

    9. Kate Bush - The Sensual World: Slightly less influential than Hounds of Love, but there aren't many albums that account for more plays than this one.

    10. U2 - Achtung Baby: This is the album that set me on the path to listening to decent music back in high school.

    11. The Smiths - Louder Than Bombs: This album got me keyed into Morrissey and The Smiths, which were not only great musical loves back at the end of high school, but keep coming back into play in my life socially.

    12. Kamelot - Epica: This is my favorite album from the first metal band I ever got into.

    13. Pink Floyd - The Wall: This was hugely influential in my life in the middle of college. I feel I'm a better person for having known Pink Floyd. Their lead man David Gilmour is also the guy who discovered Kate Bush.

    14. Madonna - True Blue: I secretly loved this album as a kid, and it's a huge reason I like what I do today. I have a thing for hints of 80s in my music; I know a lot of that comes from Madonna. I still love Open Your Heart and Live To Tell and listen to them willingly any time.

    15. Tegan and Sara - The Con: This was the album which really opened up the floodgates of me listening to Tegan and Sara. I wouldn't say it's as influential as anything else on this list, but I did see them live and I have played them a lot over the years, so it's worthy of being on here at #15.
  • My "Tribute Band" tackles Tori Amos! (parody)

    Mar 26 2009, 16h48

    My tribute band is back, making Tori Amos staples our own by modifying them to fit our vision. Here's the potential setlist:

    1. Product 19 Girl - She's hiding with the corn flakes.
    2. Mr. Platypus - If you're going to make a weird song, it ought to include a platypus.
    3. Penthouse Mommy - She's just a little more raunchy
    4. Escaped a Big Sneeze - Aaa... ahhhhhh.. AHHHHH........ Phew!
    5. Blood Oranges - Chickens would love a taste of these babies.
    6. Fairly Mediocre Month - Tears on the sleeve of a man... Yeah, seriously mediocre at best.
    7. Surfing Off Crowds - You'll never guess what we plan to do during this number.
    8. Glory of the 1880s - I love history
    9. Jackie's Scandal - Turns out all that strength was due to performance enhancing drugs
    10. Mrs. Jesus My Friend - We both know Mrs. Jesus was a girl. Wait, what?
    11. Pick Out Your Cloud Bouncing Off My Tongue - We feel this works better as a mash-up
    12. Over 9000 Oceans - Fans of the internet meme will appreciate this. For everyone else, please consider this like an intermission, and go get something to eat.
    13. Fat Hoochie Slut - Another mash-up sure to be either a crowd-pleaser, or an extended intermission.
    14. ...Baby One More Time - We all know that Tori loves to do covers live. We think she's probably a fan of this Britney Spears classic.
    15. The Wrong Band - This song is now about my tribute band.
  • Favorite Music 2008

    Dez 24 2008, 16h50

    Favorites of 2008

    As usual, a brief journal about my very favorite music from the past year. These are not necessarily new songs released this year.

    Best Songs

    1. Dream Theater - Under a Glass Moon - This song is astounding in its musicianship and complexity, but above that, it's also great to listen to. I can't get bored of this one because it's just so damn versatile. It has a bit of everything. My only complaint is that the lyrics are too abstract, but despite that it's easily one of the best songs I've ever heard.

    2. Kate Bush - The Morning Fog - Okay, I've loved this song for a few years now, but that hasn't faded at all - I may even love it more than ever. It's just so intensely happy and busy. It's the sweetest song ever, and makes me enjoy being alive.

    3. Nicole Atkins - The Way It Is - The song that got me into Nicole Atkins and sent me on a yearlong binge on her album and EPs. This song is just so intense and gets better as you listen to it. You have to make through to the end every time you hear it. Great songwriting; great performance.

    Best Albums

    1. Dream Theater - Images and Words - This is the best metal album I've ever heard and one of the most awesome displays of musicianship I've ever experienced. These guys can really play, but that doesn't always equate to music I love. On this album, it all converged into something that I could latch onto immediately. Every song has something astounding going on, but it's fun to hear on top of it all. The variety is incredible as well - Wait for Sleep sounds like a George Michael track, not a work from a prog metal band!

    2. Nicole Atkins - Neptune City - One of the best all-around albums I own. I can listen to this straight through and love every moment. Nicole and her band weave an intoxicating mesh of brilliant vocals, catchy hooks, and lovely ambiance. Get the album on iTunes so you get the wonderful extra track Skywriters too.

    3. Kate Bush - Hounds of Love - Once again, for me this album is old news, but I can't deny it its rightful place here. It's incredible. The vocals are phenomenal, the production is spectacular, and the variation is drastic and keeps things interesting. Kate's one of the most intense artists there ever was and it's hard to not see her as a serious contender every year for the top album of my charts.

    Most Influential

    The biggest influence on my life this year was Nicole Atkins seeing as I wound up going to a concert of hers with my best friends, I got a lot of people I know into her, and I got talking to some other Nicole fans online. I had Nicole as my work wallpaper for most of the time I've been here.

    Honorable Mentions

    A Fine Frenzy - Whether you know it or not, you've heard this chick all over the place. She's had two songs featured on House and two different major commercials. The thing is, she's just a down-to-earth normal girl who got a lot of talent and luck. She's not a pop diva or a creation of the music industry. I really like the song Rangers.

    Pixies - I don't like all of their songs, but it's worth mentioning that I appreciate the music I've heard from them quite a lot. I'm currently a bit obsessed with Wave of Mutilation. I feel like this song could be my anthem, though that comment could take a bit of explaining that I'm not willing to go into here.

    Lavender Diamond - I find the song Open Your Heart to rival the catchiest songs ever. I can't believe I could find a song that's so repetitive so intoxicating.
  • My "Tribute Band" tackles David Bowie! (parody)

    Dez 16 2008, 18h05

    Well, we've been touring with our Queen tribute songs for a while now, but there's only so many times you can play Dianetics Rhapsody before it gets old, so we've moved on to David Bowie for the next leg of our basement tour. Here are the songs planned for our setlist:

    1. Life On Earth? - Everyone knows there's no life on Mars already, so we went with our safety pick.
    2. Queen & Paul Rodgers Bitch - We updated this song to include Queen's new frontman. This song WAS originally about Queen, right?
    3. The Man Who Sold The Universe - The rich get richer, and the man who bought the world last time around now owns the whole universe.
    4. Rebel Yell Rebel - We channeled Billy Idol into this classic.
    5. Mexico Girl - China? Sure, but I'd rather give my little Mexico girl a man who wants to rule the world.
    6. Ziggy Freud - We turned this song into a tribute to the great psychoanalyst.
    7. Heroes - This song has been reworked to be a shameless attempt to get a contract with network television's Heroes. Honestly, we don't even watch the show.
    8. Let's Ballroom Dance - Put on your red gown and dance the...blues?
    9. Old-Fashioned Love - It's been so long since Bowie recorded Modern Love, so we figure this update is long overdue.
    10. Old Americans - As with the last cover, we're 100% sure that all the people from this song are as old as dirt these days.
    11. Suffragette Nation - Hell, this might as well be Suffragette Universe these days. All of humanity's been sissified. Grow a pair, guys!
    12. Rock 'n' Roll Overdose - Come on, suicide? Twenty bucks says it was an overdose.
    13. Lady Starman - This song is about the love-child of Starman and Lady Stardust.
    14. The Billie Jean Genie - This song is a mash-up of Michael Jackson's Billie Jean, Blue Jean, and The Jean Genie. It's probably the best song we ever performed.
    15. A Lad Insane - For the really dense folk out there, we wanted to highlight the pun. Please bear with us when we play this song, as we can't handle the piano part at all. Like, really, we practiced this song for a week and all we got down was the bass and vocals. Expect no more than that in concert.
    16. Five Golden Years - Don't let me hear you say life's taking you nowhere, Ziggy. You better hang on to yourself in these golden years.
    17. Absolute Intermediates - This song ought to be our motto.
    18. Gumbel to Gumbel - Our tribute to Family Guy sung to the tune of Ashes To Ashes. Too dark? Hey, we're absolute intermediates. Leave us alone.
    19. Diamond Lolcats - We're cashing in on the Locats phenomenon. Unfortunately, it's not as funny in song form.
    20. Under-Pressured - We're taking our version of this song from our Queen tour and using it here as well. We're under pressured, so we're breaking. Ahhhhh....
  • My "tribute band" tackles Queen as well. (parody)

    Ago 20 2008, 16h52

    Due to the overwhelming joy I had in working on the Kate Bush tribute concepts, my band is planning on expanding into Queen as well.

    Not content to simply play the classics as they are, we change the themes and sometimes the entire song to add some new flair to the music! Here's just 20 of the new songs we plan to perfect for our upcoming basement tour:

    1. We Will Stone You - We made this song a little more dark, and a little more metal.
    2. Fat Bottomed Guys - Fat bottomed guys, they'll be riding today, so look out for those beauties, oh yeah
    3. I Want Most Of It - And I want most of it now. But not all - that'd be greedy.
    4. Another One Bites The Stuffed Crust - Actually, just ignore this song, because it's really just a shameless attempt to get a contract with Pizza Hut.
    5. You're my BFF - We plan a music video with edited footage to make it look like Freddie's texting someone, though our lawyers advise against it.
    6. I'm In Love WIth my '39 Dodge - This song is a mash-up of '39 and I'm in Love With My Car, and it's awesome.
    7. Killer Earl - And you thought the Queen was dynamite with a laser beam. This guy is guaranteed to blow more than your mind.
    8. Stone Cold Creamery - This isn't as shameless as the Stuffed Crust one. We seriously dig this ice cream!
    9. Bad Company - Paul Rodgers would be proud. We made Good Company pretty much the exact some song as Bad Company. We're not even sure how we can pass this as a Queen song at all.
    10. Motorcross Race - Fat bottomed guys are riding their motorcycles through the mud, and it's f*ing sexy as hell.
    11. Radio Goo Goo - The year is 1995, and all we hear on the radio is Name by the Goo Goo Dolls. For the love of God, turn it off!
    12. We Are Third Place - I'd rather be a champion, but there's no shame in winning the bronze.
    13. Dianetics Rhapsody - We're all devoted Scientologists, so we figured we'd save the most popular Queen song to expose the evils of psychology, and bemoan Xenu's continued effect on our psyches.
    14. Crazy Little Thing Called Somebody To Love - We love Somebody to Love, so rather than actually sing it, we turned this into a song about how much we love it.
    15. Tie Your Sister Up - This song is pretty kinky
    16. Geeky Old-School Lover Boy - He likes big 80s hair and NES games.
    17. Death on Eight Legs - Queen probably weren't afraid of anything, but we're all deathly afraid of spiders. Eek!
    18. Under-Pressured - To be honest, my job is a little TOO laid back, and I have absolutely no motivation to do well.
    19. Giant Robot Battle - It's been a while since Japanese entertainment culture infected the youth of the world, so it's about time we updated this Queen II classic.
    20. Not Enough Love WIll Also Probably Kill You - Seriously, it's true.
  • My upcoming Kate Bush Tribute Band!

    Ago 19 2008, 15h10

    Since I've now learned to play the drums, I've decided to make a Kate Bush tribute band which not only does covers, but pushes the songs to the next level with totally reworked song themes and lyrics! We'll be covering pretty much every song in the catalogue! Here are some highlights:

    1. The Punch Inside - about a nice cold glass of Kool-Aid
    2. The Sensual Universe - Why stop at the world?
    3. Get Out Of My Haunted House - This song is now about a Scooby Doo episode
    4. The Big Skydive - we're not just LOOKING at the big sky anymore
    5. The Afternoon Fog - Sometimes the fog sits there all morning and into the afternoon.
    6. Falling Down The Stairs (A Deal With Bob The Handyman) - Kate didn't have any songs about home repairs... UNTIL NOW.
    7. WoW - now it's a song about World Of Warcraft. Kate was always on the cutting edge of song themes
    8. Suspended in Jell-O - We're not sure what "gaffa" is, so we made it Jell-O to make the imagery more vivid
    9. There Goes a Tenor - This is now about Luciano Pavarotti
    10. Hate and Anger - We imagined what Kate would sound like as a metal artist, and came up with this gem
    11. Under the Poison Ivy - we made this into a song about the infamous Batman villain to capitalize on Batman's resurgence
    12. Mother-in-law Sits For Comfort - she has this big ol' recliner, and she won't get the hell out of it
    13. Watching Me Without You - about a bad case of narcissism... God I look good without you.
    14. Crowd Bustling - It's Black Friday, and boy are those malls crowded
    15. Hello Jupiter - This is now basically the exact same song as Tori Amos's Hey Jupiter
    16. Sat On His Lap - About seeing Santa Claus at the mall
    17. 22/7 - 22/7 is ALMOST the same as Pi... And so is this song.
    18. Hounds Of Love Part 2 - Too good to simply change; we added a sequel!
    19. How To Be The Invisible Man - This song is now a mash-up with Queen's The Invisible Man
    20. Air Force Dreamers - Flying is a lot cooler than whatever the army does
  • Another PHENOMENAL new aritst: Nicole Atkins

    Abr 7 2008, 17h55

    So, I was looking into going to see my buddies HelenaMaria again and saw they are opening for Nicole Atkins! Let me tell you, she's absolutely incredible. Judging from her comments in her shoutboxes, everyone who's heard her music has nothing but gushing adoration for this woman. When I listen to her I feel like I just discovered Tori Amos or Kate Bush all over again. In terms of sound, I'd describe her as being a more upbeat Fiona Apple, although a couple of her songs like The Way It Is absolutely do rival the emotional intensity of Fiona and will leave you with goosebumps.

    I cannot recommend Nicole enough, and I couldn't be more confident that the majority of people will understand why after listening to her.
  • "Be Negative About Your Top 20"

    Fev 28 2008, 18h19

    I spend a lot of time gushing over the great music I love in my blogs, but it's nearly impossible for a great artist to please everyone in every way. Therefore, I thought it would be fun to be constructive and point out what I don't like about my top 20 artists. I am going to try and say something more substantial than "there's a song I don't like".

    1. Kate Bush - Her voice wasn't nearly as good on her earlier works. She never tours.
    2. David Bowie - His late 80s band Tin Machine was one of the worst acts in the history of music. No exaggeration. I'm ashamed to have bought one of their albums.
    3. Tori Amos - In concert, she sometimes adds tons of short pauses to the songs. This might be attributed to her jaw causing her pain due to a medical condition she has.
    4. Queen - I generally don't enjoy their straightforward rock albums. They can get a little boring.
    5. Kamelot - I'm really having to stretch to criticize them, but they may have spent a little too much time writing lyrics about the exact same subject.
    6. Tegan and Sara - Their singing can occasionally be a tad bit awkward, though I don't mind that much.
    7. Bryan Ferry - He is way too obsessed with doing cover songs.
    8. The Darkness - This band could have been one of the all-time greats if the lead singer hadn't been so damn obsessed with doing drugs. It sucks that his only way to control himself was to step down.
    9. Nightwish - The lead singer controversy is annoying. You can't talk to anyone about this band without people getting all passionate about which singer was better. Maybe the band's PR could have been better at handling it.
    10. George Michael - He just doesn't have enough albums for how long he's been popular in the music industry.
    11. Pink Floyd - Their early stuff is so terrible compared to their later output.
    12. Bruce Springsteen - He spent about 15 years making slow, excruciatingly boring music. Thankfully his last album finally broke that trend.
    13. Jeff Buckley - Not sure how much of this is his fault, but I am pissed off that they didn't want his band to finish the second album. I don't want to hear minimalistic Jeff Buckley. They could have at least recorded the full band for a second disc special edition.
    14. The Smiths - Morrissey's voice is very hard to warm up to until you're used to it. Even then, some of the earliest stuff is tough to get into.
    15. Sparks - They didn't seem to flourish into quite as good of a music group as some of their early recordings indicated they might.
    16. Roxy Music - A lot of their output is just plain weird. I mostly like the Bryan Ferry controlled stuff and think Avalon would make more sense as a solo project of his. At least, it would make my charts more accurate to designate Bryan as the guy that I like to listen to most.
    17. Suzanne Vega - Tom's Diner is horrible. Also, despite doing an adequate job singing on most songs, she really doesn't have a lot of versatility in her voice.
    18. XTC - I don't know a lot about them, but I couldn't get into their new wave kind of stuff. I only really got into one album.
    19. U2 - I would prefer if The Edge played more than he used special guitar effects. He came up with some awesome stuff using his little tricks, but it was a huge downer to learn that he just used a lot of echoing on the beginning of Where the Streets Have No Name, for example. I always imagined him playing really quickly.
    20. Fleetwood Mac - Rumours was a lot better than anything else they did. You can really waste a lot of time and money looking through their huge catalog of music.
  • Identical Twin Female Singer-Songwriters: HelenaMaria

    Fev 13 2008, 22h59

    Identical twin female singer-songwriters? Am I referring to Tegan and Sara? Nope, actually there's a local group of girls here in NJ who have the same distinction: HelenaMaria

    Also in the same vein as Tori Amos or Kate Bush, these two girls were into musical performance from a very young age, and thus have developed it to where it's just a built-in part of who they are. Musically speaking, a better comparison would probably be Sarah Slean who is also amazing for those not aware of her.

    After spending some time with their album, I am really in love with them. This music is extremely well done! They're very listenable and they have some really promising movements in their work. You'll suddenly be treated to a really nice piano or guitar solo in the middle of a song, which keeps things interesting. Many of the songs have nice melodic piano parts throughout. You can tell they put a lot of effort into their album! There's even a R&B song on there to mix it up, kind of like what Nellie McKay does on some of her songs. Maybe more akin to Fiona Apple's groove, but not quite as dark. It's just really nice when an artist is capable of including so many different styles of music on one album. Usually when you get an artist with a wide range of styles those influences appear over the course of a long period of time like with David Bowie.

    Since you can listen to five full tracks for free on their website at HelenaMaria.com I strongly recommend checking them out to anyone with even a passing interest in female singer-songwriters!!! You won't quite hear the whole variety of music on the samples as you get on the full album, but if given a few listens I am sure that a lot of people would go nuts for this music.
  • Best of 2007

    Dez 28 2007, 17h34

    Every year I make a list of my favorite musical things for the year. This has nothing to do with music that's new this year. I wouldn't be able to make any journals about that.

    Favorite Songs 07:
    1. Amaranth - I can't get enough of this song. I didn't notice it at first, and gradually I began to play it more and more obsessively. This has nothing to do at all with it being a single or me being into Nightwish prior to this. I just latched on to this song when I heard the album.
    2. A Feast for the Vain - It's everything I like about Kamelot rolled into one song. It's addictive, memorable, and builds up to a great musical climax. Excellent vocals and concept as well.
    3. Hop a Plane - It should be just a throwaway simple forgettable song, but Tegan and Sara are smart enough to make it only as long as it needs to be. It's short and sweet. You don't get sick of it - it's less than two minutes! Most importantly, it's passionately performed. Well whatever the reason, I always looked forward to hearing this.

    Favorite Album 07:
    1. As an overall work of art, I have to give this honor to Epica. It's a concept album without a flaw.

    Most Influential Song 07:
    1. The Poet and the Pendulum - this track got me going on the power metal stuff really big time.