Wednesday, 21 August 2013

10 Great Songs At Random (Not Really At Random)

Been hearing some good music lately and reliving great songs from years ago that I had forgotten about. There is no correlation between these songs other than the fact that I think they are great. And I didn't just close my eyes and picked 10. I picked them deliberately. So they're kind of random...but not really. You get it.

1. "Mykonos" - Fleet Foxes

How do I describe Fleet Foxes? Borque/pop? Indie/folk? Perhaps no description is necessary, because about 10 seconds into "Mykonos" the question you'll find yourself asking isn't "What is this?" it's "Why am I only hearing this now?" Get on the ground floor before everyone including your bratty 12 year old neighbour is talking about Fleet Foxes, wearing their shirts...

2. "Hail To The King" - Avenged Sevenfold

Guess who's back? Avenged Sevenfold, or AVX7 as they're sometimes referred to online, have had a rough go of sorts. After playing on the Warped Tour in 2003 vocalist M. Shadows underwent throat surgery which many fans felt affected his ability to scream in the metalcore style that they were accustomed to. Though Shadows denied this, stating it was a conscious effort to sing more melodies, a large portion of their fanbase lost interest. Then at the end of 2009 their drummer Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan was found dead of an overdose. Hearing a song like "Hail To The King" on the radio brought a smile to my face. The band hasn't caved or given in....and it sounds like they're having just as much fun as ever

3. "Cities In Dust" - Siouxsie & The Banshees

Siouxsie & The Banshees were one of the fore runners of the goth-punk scene in the 70's. They rose out of the London punk scene and became fast allies with groups like The Sex Pistols and The Misfits. "Cities in Dust" is off their 1985 album Tinderbox. By then they had already garnered a world wide following and reputation. Even to this Siouxsie & The Banshees are still known among music circles...all without mainstream attention. Heck, one of my cars is named after them.

4. "Royals" - Lorde

Lorde is the stage name of New Zealander Ella O'Connor. This another song that has taken off this year. It may be easy to breeze by on first listening but it eventually sticks in your head. It's almost like a hip-hop song slowed down to a crawl. There's something about her voice though that makes you want more...

5. "Easy To Tame" - Kim Mitchell

We're really going all over the place now, but if you've read these lists cannot be questioning it. Lately my fellow countryman Kim Mitchell has been living on the airwaves of a radio station in downton Toronto, as an afternoon host. There was a time when he was one of our brightest stars. I was not fully aware at the time, but in my later years people would talk about Kim Mitchell "How can anyone not like him?" they'd say "He wrote 'Patio Lanterns'" "Yes" i'd reply "But he also wrote "Might As Well Go For A Soda'" and there the conversation would stalemate...if my opponent had at the time brought up "Easy To Tame" I would have gladly conceded the battle. Never mind the video......the 80's...

6. "Escape Artist" - Sage Francis

Sage Francis is a hip-hop artist/rapper/slam poet who I just cannot get enough of. I close my eyes and point to any song in his library and put it on. Turns's amazing! Such is the story of how I discovered "Escape Artist". Enjoy

7.  "Sex" - The 1975

If you've been to YouTube at all lately you may have noticed a pop up ad promoting a new single by a band called The 1975. Unless you use adBlock, in which case here is your heads up that this song is great. Their a young band out of England and i'm pretty sure they weren't alive in 1985...let alone their name may be a tinge perplexing, but if they keep pumping out rock like this....i'll forgive them.

8. "Shout Me Out" - TV On The Radio

TV On The Radio are a great band from Brooklyn, one of my favourites. They always have high and energy and bring a new sound to the table with every album. "Shout Me Out" is off their 2008 release Dear Science which landed near the top of almost every top ten list that was created that year. They last released an album in 2011 shortly before the death of their bassist/pianist Gerard Smith. They currently have no plans for a 5th album.

9.  "Mister Vesselin" - Krisko

Was recently overseas and during my time in Bulgaria there was this catchy track being played on the radio, and every niteclub and pub played it at least once a night. Through crude hand signals and dispersing what little Bulgarian I learned I was able to get a waitress to tell me the artist's name. She scribbled some letters from her alphabet on a cocktail napkin along with six letters that I recognized from mine: "Krisko".

10. "A Bar In Amsterdam" - Katzenjammer

Here's another band from Europe. Formed in Oslo, Norway Katzenjammer sing in English, so their music is more accessible to Western audiences.  "A Bar in Amsterdam" actually comes off their 2008 debut Le Pop. It's a fun little drinking tune with lightning quick trumpets and a very sing-a-long-able chorus.

There ya go. You may not have enjoyed all of them, but I hope you found a new band to check out.
What song are you jamming to right now? Drop me a line, let me know

Cheers permanently!



Tuesday, 13 August 2013

10 Songs That Were First Featured On Greatest Hits Albums

Y'know when a long surviving band releases one of those Greatest Hits albums? We've all seen 'em. First off, some might say that greatest hits records are for housewives and little girls, a cheater's guide to some of the best artists out there. Us true fans of bands deemed worthy enough for Best Of albums had to sift through the sand of debut and concept releases to find those cherished gems nestled between the lead off single and a ten minute experimental piano solo. Why suffer though when you can just wait ten years and pick up all an artist's most popular songs in one spot. When you do there's always that one new song that wasn't never released or written specifically for the compilation. I always wondered how they knew that song would be a greatest hit one day. Well here's ten songs released in just that way...some lived up to the hype, others....not so much.

1. "Get Born Again" - Alice In Chains

Greatest Hits albums are a good way for a band to fulfill their contractual obligations to a record company without putting too much effort into the release. Maybe a group signed a bad deal and grew weary after studio album 4 on a 7 album deal. Knock out a few "Best Of" discs and look for greener pastures to play music from. "Get Born Again" was a new single featured on the 1999 release Nothing Safe: The Best Of The Box. The song was originally written by Alice guitarist Jerry Cantrell for his solo career but after Layne Staley heard it they decided to make it an AIC song. Staley would never be featured on a full length Alice In Chains album again due to his increasing struggles with drugs. Perhaps the band was waiting for him to clean himself up and was keeping the record deal at bay by putting out compilation discs. He never would as he was found dead of an overdose in 2002.

2. "Mary Jane's Last Dance" - Tom Petty

This is an example of a new song featured on a "Best Of" album that did live up to it's hype. It was recorded in 1993 and released on Petty's Greatest Hits album that year. It skyrocketed up the charts and became his first top 20 hit peaking at #14. The video won the Best Male Video category at the MTV music awards in 1994 and was a memorable one in which Petty played a mortician who becomes infatuated with and eventually brings home the corpse of Kim Basinger.

3. "Again" - Lenny Kravitz

Kravitz released his Greatest Hits record in 2000 and it featured two new singles. "Black Velveteen" which saw moderate success but the album's first single "Again" garnered the most attention. It earned him a Grammy in 2001 and was also his first top ten hit since 1991's "It Ain't Over 'til It's Over"

4. "Man Overboard" - Blink 182

Alright, bending the rules slightly for this one as The Mark, Tom & Travis Show album wasn't actually a greatest hits release but a live album. A new song was tacked on the end though and was the studio version of "Man Overboard" a song purportedly about ex-drummer Scott Raynor's departure from the group.

5. "Can't Repeat" - The Offspring

There are some bands and artists with a longevity who have yet to release a Greatest Hits record but could totally fill a quadruple album's worth of songs. Metallica is the first one that comes to mind. The Offspring you'd might think would be a band uninterested in a Best Of album but they released one in 2005.  Though it was actually just a collection of their singles, the one new song "Can't Repeat" failed to gain any significant attention and is the one song on the disc that deserves an asterisk when the words Greatest Hits are involved. Bonus fact! The hidden track on The Offspring's album is a great cover of The Police's "Next To You".

6. "Tonight She Comes" - The Cars

The Cars were a force to be reckoned with in the 70's and 80's. At the time they released their Greatest Hits in 1985 they had 3 top ten hits. The new single off the album "Tonight She Comes" became #4 to do so. 3 years later The Cars would call it quits due to  dwindling interest and the band members' desires to pursue solo careers. Though their bassist and founding member Benjamin Orr passed in 2000 from cancer, the band reunited in 2010.

7. "You're The World To Me" - David Gray

While we over here in North America might not think David Gray is worthy of a greatest hits album in his native UK he is an absolute monster. Three number 1 albums, 4 international smash singles and multiple Brit Award nominations. The new track off of his Greatest Hits album was "You're The World To Me" and he described the song as a "Joyous tune amongst a bag of happy shit"

8. "Bad Day" - R.E.M

REM are another of those bands who's career has spanned multiple decades, had a band member leave the group and who have jumped from record label to record label. As such they've release a few Best Of albums. The Best Of REM released in 1991, REM In The Attic in 1997 and Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage in 2011 to name a few. "Bad Day" came off the 2003 Best Of album In Time.

9. "Thanks, That Was Fun" - Barenaked Ladies

With a title like that it's no wonder many fans thought the Barenaked Ladies were calling it quits and saying good bye in 2001 when they released a Greatest Hits album with "Thanks, That Was Fun" being the last track. To add to the wonder the video featured clips sewn together of all their past music videos. Like flipping endearingly through and old yearbook and remembering when.

10. "The Sweetest Thing" - U2

U2 released two greatest hits albums The Best Of 1980-1990 in 1998 and The Best Of 1990 - 2000 in 2002. "The Sweetest Thing" came off of the former. While the song was originally released as a b-side to an earlier single, it was retooled and rerecorded for the compilation album and acted as a new single in 1998. As the story goes Bono wrote the song as an apology to his wife (who appears in the early moments of the video) as he had missed her birthday while recording The Joshua Tree in 1986. As part of the deal she donated all profits from the single to her favourite charity. Chernobyl Children's Project International.

Thanks again for reading! Hoping to do this more often!

Twit at sh'boy! @jonnyzhivago