Sunday, 14 December 2014

10 More Great Christmas Songs

I did a list a few years ago about the best Christmas songs ever. Of course as soon as I  posted it I wanted to immediately change it. Songs get forgotten or left off for one reason or another. New songs get released and discovered. So here's a few more Christmas songs to fill out your playlist over this holiday season. 10 More Great Christmas songs!

1. "I Believe In Father Christmas" - Greg Lake

Originally of Emerson, Lake and Palmer fame, this was Greg Lake's first foray into the solo musician world. It would actually be his only hit as a solo performer. It hit the perfect Christmas vibe right on the head. Capturing the wonder of the holiday season we all remember from our childhoods and giving the song a great build up to it's wonderful finale.

2. "A Change At Christmas (Say It Isn't So)" - The Flaming Lips

This song comes off The Flaming Lips 2003 EP Ego Tripping At The Gates Of Hell. This Oklahoma City college rock band is known for their songs with storytelling and fantastical lyrical content. Everyone gets a little soft side around Christmas.

3. "The Coldest Night Of The Year" - Hawksley Workman

This song is a cover of Bruce Cockburn's song of the same name, and while the original might not have been intended as a Christmas song, it fit very well on Workman's 2011 Christmas album Full Moon Eleven.

4. "Winter Wonderland" - Cocteau Twins

Not all bands opt to create a new song for the season, many others simply add their own distinct tinge to already beloved classics. Scotland's Cocteau Twins recorded a version of "Winter Wonderland" for a 2 song EP in 1993 called Snow. They added their distinct use of airy instruments and dreamlike vocals to put a more modern spin on the carol.

5. "The 12 Days Of Christmas" - Bob & Doug McKenzie

Good Day. Bob & Doug McKenzie gained fame from being part of SCTV a sketch-com television show from the late 70's and early 80's. It was created by a comedy troupe in Canada known as Second City and many Canadian comedians got their start from being apart of it. John Candy, Eugine Levy, Martin Short, Andrea Martin and Catherine O'Hara to name a few. Bob and Doug were portrayed by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas and became National icons for their over the top Canadian characterizations. This is their take on a perfect Christmas from the great white north.

6. "The First Noel" - Crash Test Dummies

Another contempory rendition of a classic Christmas carol from a few more Canadian icons. The Crash Test Dummies hailed from Winnipeg, Manitoba and were known for Brad Roberts very distinct baritone vocals.

7. "Thank God It's Christmas" - Queen

Though not being released officially on a Queen album until 1999, "Thank God It's Christmas" spent Christmas and New Years in UK at #1 on the charts when it was released in 1984. It also did not get an official promo video with it's release, because of this and the exclusion from being on an album, gets this song forgotten among great Xmas songs. But should really be up there with "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo".

8. "A Spaceman Came Travelling" - Chris De Burgh

Long before Chris De Burgh had a monster hit with "Lady In Red" he was broke and staying on his friend's couch. De Burgh spent alot of time reading and came across Chariots Of The Gods? by Erik Von Daniken. He started writing and playing with the idea that the star of Bethlehem was actually a space craft and thus this song was penned. It failed to chart initially but gained a second life around Christmas time after "Lady In Red" broke through in 1986.

9. "Last Christmas" - Jimmy Eat World

Just like some bands will give us their interpretations of classic Christmas carols, Jimmy Eat World recorded a version of another beloved festive tune. Originally released by Wham! "Last Christmas" has become the "Knocking On Heavens Door" of Christmas songs, almost everyone has done a version.

10. "Father Christmas" - The Kinks

One of the best known and sideways Christmas songs there are. "Father Christmas" is The Kinks making a song for the holidays the only way they know how. It's about a kid who always knew that Santa was merely parent's tricking their kids and ends up portraying St. Nick outside a department store. He then gets mugged by kids who are looking for money instead of toys. In a way it's a different to remind people that Christmas isn't always a joyous time of year for everyone and we should do what we can to make sure no one is forgotten.

Hope that will help plump up your Xmas song playlist.
Have a good holiday season everyone!
I'll be back soon to give you the Best Songs Of 2014!!


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

10 Great Songs About Blood

A little violent today? Perhaps. A quick story about the inspiration of this list before we get on with it. Watching the basketball game last night when play is stopped because a player is bleeding above their eye. The arena loud speakers begin playing "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis. Clever DJ or happystance? Either way, my lady asks me what song I would play and before play even resumed in the game I had a handful of songs with some variation of 'blood' in the title. So here are 10 Great Songs About Blood

1. "The Bleeding" - Five Finger Death Punch

This was first included on Five Finger Death Punch's debut EP as well as an acoustic version of the track. For the life of me I cannot imagine this song done as an acoustic....that's going on the list. Another fact about this song that might come as a surprise is it was the song Ivan Moody sang for his audition to become the band's singer. Big tough, gravelly voiced Ivan Moody was so shy and nervous he had to sing with his back to his audience.

2. "Blood To Bleed" - Rise Against

More angry young men. From their blazing 2004 album Siren Song of The Counter Culture, Rise Against gives us a double shot of blood with "Blood To Bleed". It should tell you how incredible that album was because "Blood To Bleed" was not one of the 4 singles released from the album. Seriously, get it.

3. "Bleed Out" - Blue October

I may have talked about this song before on here, but it warrants constant discussion because of how good it is. Many casual listeners see Blue October as a one hit wonder mainly because of 2006's Hate Me" hit #31 on the charts. There is so much more to hear. On "Bleed Out" the band really wanted to be sure the crashing guitars of the chorus didn't overpower the drums quick hi-hat notes. Enter Tim Palmer who's worked with Ozzy Osbourne, Robert Plant, Porcupine Tree and HIM to name a few. I think the band was happy with the results.

4. "Only Women Bleed" - Alice Cooper

Many people obviously assumed Cooper was singing about menstruation in "Only Women Bleed". Some feminist groups actually protested the song because they felt it advocated domestic abuse. The song is actually a sympathetic view of the subject and is definitely one of Alice Cooper's softer songs, showcasing a gentler, caring side rather than the shock rock antics he's known for.

5. "Bleeding Me" - Metallica

Another double dose of blood. Metallica's "Bleeding Me" comes off of their 1996 album Load which features album artwork by Andres Serrano. The artist mixed his own semen with cow blood and sandwiched it between 2 sheets of plexiglass to get the resulting effect.

6. "Bleed It Out" - Linkin Park

Linkin Park returned to the hard rock arena in 2007 with Minutes To Midnight and especially in my native Canada it was very well received. Unlike their debut album, they decided if they wanted to curse they would. That decision didn't stop people from picking it up either as it sold around 3.3 million copies in it's first month.

7. "Cold Blooded" - Rick James

Before drugs and accusations of sexual deviancy would tarnish his life and image, Rick James was one of the top producers and song writers of the early 80's. Songs he wrote and performed would chart on both the pop charts and the R&B Charts. "Cold Blooded" landed at #40 on the US charts in 1983 and is apparently about Linda Blair, who was his girlfriend at the time.

8. "Wait & Bleed" - Slipknot

I'm sure every heavy metal band has a song with blood, or bleeding or something like it in it's title. Iowa's Slipknot's first big single was "Wait and Bleed" a quick, pulsing, punishing metal onslaught. It really showcased the raw energy that one would expect from a Slipknot show and had the musical promise that one would expect the 9 members of Slipknot to continuously create. And they have

9. "Same Blood" - The Academy Is...

The Academy Is... was a band from Chicago that performed from 2003-2011. They had 3 studio albums with several singles off of each. Their biggest being "About A Girl" in 2008, hit #88. "Same Blood" is a great song that didn't get the single treatment, but it caught my attention thanks to the band's involvement in the Vans Warped Tour in 2008.

10. "Bleed American" - Jimmy Eat World

Jimmy Eat World's first major song was "Bleed American" off the album of the same name. I was in radio when 9/11 took place and among the countless things that day changed, the music on the radio was one of them. While up in that small town in Canada, we weren't really forced to change anything we got wind of a list of songs that either were going to be pulled from rotation or their names would not be said on air or changed. "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" and "Imagine" were both on the do not play list. Same with "Tuesday's Gone" and "Great Balls Of Fire". Jimmy Eat World's album title and song title were changed to "Salt Sweat Sugar". In 2008 the band released a deluxe edition of the album with original titles restored. We still called it "Bleed American"... cant let terrorism win.

This list was a result of a request!!

You can comment and make a request and i'll do the list!!!


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

10 Great Songs With Biblical References

Let's not shit ourselves just yet. Yes, this is going to be a post about songs with biblical references. No it will not be a commentary on the Catholic/Christian religions, nor will it seek the validity of any passage that the songs may refer to. Since this blog's inception I have been diligent to keep the content strictly about the music. Not the race, religion or sexual orientation of any of the artists behind the songs. Could give a shit about that. Here are 10 Great Songs with Biblical References.

1. Metallica - "The Four Horsemen"

The Bible is a great place for metal bands to draw inspiration for lyrics. It's got some very violent and messed up parts. Especially the book of Revelations which basically is describing the end of the world. One of the most famous elements from that book is the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Their names vary but the most famous incarnations are War, Famine, Pestilence and Death. In this song War is replaced by Time. Like I said variations exist. On a side note you might notice a similarity between this song and the song "Mechanix" by Megadeth. Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine was the guitarist for Metallica when this song was written and is given writing credit for the song on Kill 'em All. After he split from the group he released the song on Megadeth's album Killing Is My Business....And Business Is Good! Metallica reworked the lyrics and added a bridge so they weren't the exact same songs.

2. Regina Spektor - "Samson"

Samson was essentially a Herculean figure in the Bible's Old Testament. A man of superhuman strength could squash an army by himself and killed a lion with his bare hands. His powers came from his flowing locks of hair, which also made him invincible. Sadly Samson had a thing for shady woman and fell for the Sorek woman Delilah. Delilah was paid off by Samson's enemies and she shaved his head one night as he slept. He soon captured and killed by the Philistines.

3. Mumford & Sons - "Babel"

The story of The Tower Of Babel is how The Bible explains all of the Earth's languages. After the Great Flood the descendants of Noah tried to build a tower so high that it would reach the heavens. To quell their efforts God changed all of their tongues so they couldn't understand one another. Mumford & Sons themselves say the song is about human discontent, which is a theme in the story of Babel.

4. Leonard Cohen - "Hallelujah"

This song has grown a life of it's own since it's original release in 1984 with countless artists recording all sorts of versions of it. In my opinion there are only 2 versions of "Hallelujah" that you need to be arsed with: Jeff Buckley's haunting recording for his 1994 debut Grace and the original written by Leonard Cohen. Cohen knew he had something special on his hands and was careful not to be hasty when releasing it. "Hallelujah" went through several demos with dozens of sheets of lyrics and content that Cohen was drawing inspiration from. The Bible was perhaps the biggest source of inspiration as several stories from it are referenced. The aforementioned Samson & Delilah, the 12 Commandments and King David and Bathesba.

5. Bob Dylan - "Jokerman"

Much like Leonard Cohen Bob Dylan was known for his whimsical, clever and often poetic lyrics. His song "Jokerman"off his 1983 album Infidels is chalk full of references to renaissance times, Greek mythology and yes The Bible. Most notably the line "You go to Sodom and Gamorrah, but what do you care; Ain't nobody there would want to marry your sister". Sodom and Gamorrah was a city known for it's debauchery. Wan't an example? Look up the story of Lot and his angel buddies. That should be enough.

6. The Rolling Stones - "Saint Of Me"

Though very obvious biblical allusions litter this track off of Bridges To Babylon, "Saint Of Me" is actually written about Billy Preston a legendary R&B performer known for his run-ins with the law. Preston actually plays keyboards on the track. The Stones were sued for this song by a husband and wife duo who claimed this song sounded like their track "Oh Yeah" though it appears the lawsuit went nowhere.

7. Avenged Sevenfold - "Beast and The Harlot"

Remember what I said about Metal bands finding great inspiration from The Book of Revelations? Here's another beauty, it's from Avenged Sevenfold who have made a living writing songs inspired by literature. "Beast and The Harlot" has lyrics paraphrasing the story of The Great City Of Babylon's fall which describes several beasts and a harlot who ushers in the downfall of earth's kings. It's a wild story and this song kicks so much ass. Just alot of fun all around!

8. Jars Of Clay - "Flood"

Jars of Clay are the only self-proclaimed Christian Rock Group on this list. Not only is the song "Flood" an obvious allusion to a biblical tale. (If you don't know the story of Noah's Ark yet I ain't the one who should be telling you) but their band name is one too. It's from the book of Corinthians that describes people as jars of clay, or something. To show that God created an awe-inspiring treasure not humans. I think.

9. The Byrds - "Turn! Turn! Turn!"

Where metal bands can find inspiration in The Bible to form songs of death and destruction, hippie bands can use it to create lyrics for songs of peace, love and happiness. The part of the song that is explaining that there is a time for this and that is almost taken verbatim from the book of Ecclesiastes.

10. The White Stripes - "Cannon"

This song features a sample from an a capella song by Son House called "John The Revelator". It is said that St. John wrote the Book of Revelations that all those crazy fiery beasty brimstoney visions come from. \Hence he is "John The Revelator". I like the White fact most of what Jack White comes out with I enjoy. He's released s much music and has been part of so many groups I could probably write a rather diverse blog post about him. Hmmmm......

Thanks again all!!

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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

10 Great Songs Used As TV Show Themes

Television shows often get dumped on as a form of entertainment or even art. Just because something gets watched on television rather than the silver screen or (nowadays) digital media, it's looked down on. Over the course of it's now dwindling history, there have been some very important moments in Television and it has even crossed over and made friends with other art forms. In this case music. Here are 10 Great Songs that were used as TV Themes.

1. "Woke Up This Morning" - Alabama 3

Criminally known as A3 in North America to avoid confusion with the Country band Alabama from the state of the same name, Alabama 3 are an English band known for fusing rock with electronic, blues and even country music into one. Their biggest North American hit is "Woke Up This Morning" which has been used for the opening credits of the HBO show The Sopranos.  The song is now virtually inseparable from gangland culture and throbbing machismo, even though it was originally written through the woman's point of view who was sick of enduring an abusive relationship.

2. "Closer To Free" - BoDeans

Going from being virtually unknown to the top of the Billboard charts overnight is an experience that Wisconsin's BoDeans can live to tell about. In 1996 the TV show Party Of Five used their song "Closer To Free" which is about people being able to have a relationship with whomever they choose, as it's main theme. The song landed at #16 in 1996 despite being originally released 3 years earlier on their 1993 album Go Slow Down.

3. "Maybe Tomorrow" - Terry Bush

In 1975 Canadian Televsion network CTV decided to revive the classic 60's series The Littlest Hobo, a series about an ownerless dog traveling the country side and helping people along the way. When the producers approached Terry Bush to write the theme song, they initially rejected his song "Maybe Tomorrow", but later came back to Terry and accepted the song. Bush wisely retained the writes to his song and in 2005 he released a more commercially appealing version. While us Canadians may remember a mangy German Shepard trotting down a dirt road to this tune, it's been gaining popularity in the UK recently, being used in several TV ads.

4. "Superhero" - Jane's Addiction

When the HBO series Entourage debuted in 2004 it needed a theme song that would catch the ear and also fit along with the crash-bang lifestyle the starry-eyed protagonists lived. Which better band to provide the song than notorious larger-than-life rockers Jane's Addiction. "Superhero" was the song and now it's almost tough to hear the tune without picturing Vince and the boys cruising the Sunset Strip.

5. "WKRP Cincinnati" - Steve Carlisle

Don't ask me who Steve Carlisle was because I don't know, but it seems like he was merely the vocalist chosen to sing a theme song written for the show. WKRP In Cincinnati was an iconic show from the mid 70s to early 80s that many broadcasters (such as myself) hold dear and many critics praised for it's realistic take on the world of Radio Broadcasting. Though it was out before my time, I have many fond memories watching the show in syndication and being very excited whenever I heard this magical theme song.

6. "We Used To Be Friends" - The Dandy Warhols

Some theme songs are picked because they line up perfectly with the plot or themes of the show they are promoting. Other times certain artists are approached by the showrunners to write a song specifically for the show. In this case however, Dandy Warhols front man Courtney Taylor-Taylor has no idea why his song "We Used To Be Friends" was picked for the opening theme for Veronica Mars, he figures they just dug the track.

7. "South Park Theme" - Primus

When Matt Stone and Trey Parker got the green light to bring their filthy, animated creation South Park to television their first choice for the theme song was Primus. Frontman Les Claypool watched one of their shorts and came up with the idea rather quickly. Though the original theme song was deemed to long to be acceptable, Stone and Parker simply sped up the music and asked Claypool to re-record his vocals over the accelerated track. The result is what is played before every epsiode.

8. "I'll Be There For You" - The Rembrandts

The ever iconic theme song to the 90's ratings juggernaut Friends was written by professional songwriters and given to the LA group The Rembrandts to record. Originally a simple 30 second ditty, as are most TV themes, "I'll Be There For You" was soon being played on the radio by DJs who had recorded the song and looped it to make it around 3 minutes. Soon the heat was on for The Rembrandts to release it as a proper single, but since they didn't write it they refused. A compromise came about which saw the group write a second verse and the bridge, which allowed the band to receive writing credit and the song was released as a proper single in 1995. it hit #17 in the US and #5 in the UK.

9. "With  A Little Help From My Friends" - Joe Cocker

Written and recorded by the Beatles for the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band "With A Little Help From My Friends" was not released as a single until Joe Cocker covered it in 1968. Impressed with his version Paul McCartney and John Lennon printed an ad in a music paper praising it. In 1988 the TV show The Wonder Years used it as the theme song. Joe's signature scratchy voice and slowly drawn out 3/4 waltz timing really helped cement this song in the time frame that The Wonder Years was set.

10. "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" - Gary Portnoy

In 1982 when the show Cheers was seeking out a song to use over it's opening credits, the producers were looking for something more serious and adult themed rather than the poppy-silly theme songs that saturated the airwaves of the 80's. Songwriter Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo came up with this sad tune that is reminiscent of those played by piano men at the bars that Cheers was based on. Instead of hiring an established star to record the theme the producers were impressed with Portnoy and even got him to record a longer version when audiences would request the sheet music and pressings of the song.


11. "Having An Average Weekend" - Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet

The Kids In The Hall were a sketch-com group composed of 5 young lads from Canada. When they were given a weekly show on A&E they recruited equally surreal and quirky Canadian instrumentalist band Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet. Most of their songs were short and fast-paced. "Having An Average Weekend" (The show's theme) is no exception.

Thanks again!!!

Seriously a big list is coming!!



Tuesday, 28 October 2014

10 Great Songs By Artists With Famous Grave Sites

I was saving this one in the holster for this time of year. Usually around Halloween song lists are filled with the "Monster Mash"es and "Ghostbusters". Thats all fine and good, but i'm taking a different approach. Death is an inevitable part of life and when a musician goes down they often leave behind a grave site that was just a mercurial as they were. Here are 10 Songs by Artists with Famous Grave Sites

1. "From The Morning" - Nick Drake

Nick Drake's grave marker lies in Tanworth-in-Arden, England. Much like his lonely, isolated life, his grave marker is a small, underwhelming stone. Very easy to be overlooked. Though Drake rarely used them, fans seeking the grave often leave guitar picks at the stone. Having overdosed on sleeping pills at the age of 26 he never lived to see his music find a global audience. The epitaph is "Now We Rise & We Are Everywhere" it was chosen by Nick's mother and it comes from the final song off of his final album.

2. "53rd & 3rd" - The Ramones

It's a sad reality that all 4 of the original members of The Ramones have now all passed. Tommy Ramone being the latest died at the age of 65. Joey Ramone has a relatively modest tombstone featuring his real name Jeff Hyman. Johnny Ramone has an 8ft tall bronze statue put up in his honour (which he erected prior to his death) and Dee Dee Ramone, who died of a drug overdose in 2002, has a gravestone with an epitaph that reads "Ok...I gotta go now". Punk rock in life and death.

3. "Life Is A Carnival" - The Band

Though written by The Band's guitarist "Up On Cripple Creek" featured Levon Helm on lead vocals. Helm passed in 2012 after a long battle with cancer. His grave site at the Woodstock cemetery is notable for not having an epitaph in words, but a series of musical notes that is from The Band's own "Life Is A Carnival".

4. "Change" - Blind Melon

Blind Melon's meteoric rise to fame in the early 90's was sadly overshadowed by the drug-induced downfall of their own enigmatic frontman Shannon Hoon. Hoon struggled with drug addiction for most of his young life and made a last ditch gambit to get clean before the birth of his daughter Nico Blue in 1995. In August of that year Blind Melon was to tour to support their new album Soup, though the band hired a counselor for Hoon to keep him from relapsing, he was found dead on the tour bus in October after an all night drug binge. His grave stone is engraved with a line from "Change" the first song he wrote..."I know we can't all stay here forever, so i want to write my words on the face of today. And they'll paint it".

5. "In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning" - Frank Sinatra

Sinatra is still one of the most legendary entertainers of the golden age of music and film. Enjoying a long career of countless albums and movies, Sinatra's life came to an end at the age of 82 after suffering a heart attack and battling numerous health problems. His tombstone has the simple and lovely epitaph "The Best Is Yet To Come"

6. "The End" - The Doors

Jim Morrison was perhaps the quinessential front man for a classic rock band. Poetic, dense lyrics. Crazy, drunken on stage antics. And a short life-span. One of the inaugural members of the "27 Club" Morrison died in France in 1971. The circumstances of his death are still heavily in question as no autopsy was performed as wast the norm in Paris at the time. He was buried in a Paris cemetery with no official grave marker until Parisian officials placed a shield over the burial. The shield was of course stolen as were various bronze busts created by artists that were also used as grave markers. Finally in the early 90's Morrison's father commissioned a bronze plaque be placed at the site with a Greek inscription which roughly translates to "True To Himself"

7. "To Live Is To Die" - Metallica

Metallica's early days of thrash-metal glory were cut short while on tour with Ozzy Osbourne in Europe in 1986. In support of their album Master Of Puppets, they were overnighting through Sweden when their tour bus lost control and overturned several times down the rocky hill beside the highway. Everyone on board was thrown clear except for 24 year old bassist Cliff Burton. Burton had become pinned beneath the bus and could not be saved.  The crash site hosts a memorial plaque for Burton with a line from "To Live Is To Die" that was posthumously released with lyrics from a poem that Burton himself had wrote. "Cannot The Kingdom Of Salvation Take Me Home"

8. "Hickory Wind" - The Byrds

Gram Parsons, who is most known for his work in the Country-Rock world, got his start with The Byrds in 1968. Later in life he became infatuated with the Joshua Tree National Monument and had spoken of desires to be cremated on famous Cap Rock there. In 1973 Parsons died of an apparent overdose of morphine and alcohol. While his body was waiting at the Louisiana Airport to be flown back to New Orleans, his body was stolen by some friends, driven to The Joshua Tree and ignited in flames in an attempt to fulfill his last rights. A tribute to Parsons can still be found at Cap Rock to this day.

9. "What's Your Name" - Lynyrd Skynyrd

It was said Lynyrd Skynyrd and Neil Young had a feud in the late 60's/early 70's due to members of Skynyrd taking exception to themes in Neil Young's song "Southern Man". While both parties claimed it was goodnatured and light-hearted, some fans took the rumours too far. In 1977 while Lynyrd Skynyrd were embarking on a tour to support their album Street Survivors, the small air plane they chartered had a small engine and it crashed into the forests of Mississippi. Band members Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines were killed along with Gaines' sister, the road manager and both pilots. Sometime around their deaths a rumour started to swirl that Van Zant had been buried with a Neil Young t-shirt on. In 2000 vandals had exhumed the graves of both Van Zant and Gaines in attempt to determine if the rumours were true.

10. "Bobby Brown" - Frank Zappa

Zappa was a musician known for his eccentricities and individuality as much as he was known for his music. He has children named Dweezil and Moon Unit Zappa. He was outspoken and critical of mainstream education and religion and was an advocate for free speech and the abolition of censorship. His musical style was difficult to categorize as his influences and resources spanned a wide variety. In 1993 he died from prostate cancer and was buried in an unmarked grave. It might be difficult to believe that a man with so much whimsy and gusto could be left to rest in an unmarked grave, but I guess that's the way the Zap wanted it.

Have a great Halloween everyone!!!!


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

10 More Great Cover Songs

Nothing more really to expand on beyond that blog title. Cover songs are a part of the music world and as we all know, some are great...some not so much. Thankfully, we'll be focused on the good ones today. Save the not so great ones for later. 10 More Great Cover Songs.

1. MaxAmillion - "Sexual Healing"

As blasphemous as it is to say a cover of a Marvin Gaye song is great, but it is. Probably because MaxAmillion transformed a song intended for intimate one on one time into a dance hall reggae-pop hip grinder. To this day it's impossible not to make it through the whole track.

2. Happy Mondays - "The Boys Are Back In Town"

The dog's bollocks indeed! Thin Lizzy's anthemic ode to a boy's night out was never high on my re-listen to list. A quick spin of the Happy Monday's re-hash and it's clear to see that this track is must have for any pump up party mix!

3. Krokus - "Stayed Awake All Night"

It must have been a struggle for metal bands to make it big in the 80's. It's one way to explain why so many of them choose to cover each other's obscure tracks. Quiet Riot covered Slade. Slayer covered Iron Butterfly. And Switzerland's Krokus had their fair share as well. My fave by them was a cover of an obscure song by Canada's Bachman Turner Overdrive, "Stayed Awake All Night"

4. They Might Be Giants - "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)"

Originally a 50's swing tune by The 4 Lads....what a typical name for a swing-vocal band from that era...a Canadian group originally named the Otnorots. They Might Be Giants sped the tune up and added just a tinge of their quirky change of the decade flair to this already quirky song. Either way it worked.

5. Santana - "Hold On"

Another song written by a Canadian that found worlds more success after it was covered. Hamilton's Ian Thomas (who happens to be younger brother of actor Dave Thomas) wrote and released "Hold On" in 1981 only to have Santana record a version a year later and see it reach much more success.

6. Pussycat Dolls - "Don't Cha"

Well not so much of a cover, but "Don't Cha" was originally written by CeeLo Green in 2004 and recorded by Alamaze, a former backing singer for Outkast. Alamaza then backed out of her contract with her label and the song was re-recorded by The Pussycat Dolls singing group fabricated by the same label. The rest is quasi-memorable-pop-chart-topping-sorta history.

7. Helmet - "Army Of Me"

90's bands covering 90's songs. What more can I say?

8. Ben Gibbard - "Indian Summer"

I've written about "Indian Summer" before and how it's been referred to as the "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" of the Indie scene in Seattle. Well that's because everybody has done a version of it. Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie and The Postal Service recorded a version for his involvement with the Kurt Cobain biopic "About A Son"

9. Hayden - "Gouge Away"

Speaking of the Indie Scene in Seattle, The Pixies were grunge before anyone knew who Nirvana were. Hayden's version of their classic "Gouge Away" shifts from grunge to a semi-folk grunge fusion. It's delightful.

10. The Offspring - "Killboy Powerhead"

I'm not sure The Offspring's 1994 album Smash needed the help of  a cover song to get it noticed, but they included a rare track from Illinois punk group The Didjits anyway. "Killboy Powerhead" was originally on The Didjits 1990 release Hornet Pinata, and barely had time to breathe before The Offspring got a hold of it 4 years later

Thanks again for reading!



Tuesday, 23 September 2014

10 Great Songs About Autumn

Yes it's official. Summer is over for another year. If you've been to Google at all today you'd have seen that it's the first day of Autumn, which I thought was always the 21st. Fall Equinox shit....who knew. It's not as bad as it seems folks, there is plenty of good things about Summer being behind us. Basketball and Hockey seasons are about to begin, Oktober (the best month) finds it's home in the Fall and there is always the comfort of great music. Here are 10 Great Songs About Autumn.

1. "Autumnsong" - Manic Street Preachers

I'm a huge Manic Street Preachers fan, I just haven't haven't heard a song by them that I haven't enjoyed. "Autumnsong" was taken from the album Send Away The Tigers and was released in 2007. Whether this song is actually about Autumn or not, it's the first one that popped in my head when I thought up the it's the first on this list

2. "Autumn Sweater" - Yo La Tengo

I know what you're saying...did I just search for songs with "Autumn" in it's title? Well no I didn't, dinkhole. Yo La Tengo are another one of those great 90's groups that didn't receive the credit they deserved. "Autumn Sweater" was the first song I heard by them. I love the vibe and slow, crawling vocal style of Ira Kaplan and it was one of the first times the band experimented with a techno influence. I'd say it was successful.

3. "Indian Summer" - Beat Happening

Indian Summer is the name given to that time of year when it gets unseasonably warm in the Fall months from September to November. It's notable because it often happens after we've already been scraping frost off of our cars. The song by Beat Happening has been called the "Knocking on Heaven's Door" of indie rock, because of all the different cover versions that have been released by bands in the scene, like Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and Luna to name a few.

4. "In September" - Hayden

Hayden is one of Canada's finest folk-oriented singer/songwriters. A career spanning three decades and 7 albums, he's earned accolades and praise from almost every Canadian media outlet. I am proud to have shaken his hand and given him a copy of my shitty demo CD. Hayden's demo CD, well tape I guess back them, was called In September where the title track closely resembled a grungy alt-rock anthem, far from his current folk style.

5.  "Harvest Breed" - Nick Drake

Almost all of Nick Drake's songs have that feel. Walking through a small, quiet English town. A tweed jacket buttoned up to your chin. A little chill on your nose. The sky is grey and the leaves are painted in colours of orange, red and yellow. While any song on Drake's perfect album Pink Moon could be your soundtrack, "Harvest Breed" is a pretty little ode to the under appreciated Fall season.

6. "Season Of The Witch" - Donovan

Often viewed as the first psychedelic songs released, "Season Of The Witch" was a bit of a departure for the usually folk-infused Donovan. The song featured Jimmy Page on guitar, "Fast" Eddie Hoh on drums and rumours swirled that John Paul Jones played the organ. Simply adding to the mystique of this already intriguing song.

7. "Yer Fall" - Hey Rosetta!

Hey Rosetta! is a Indie Rock group from the East coast of Canada. St. John's Newfoundland to be more specific. Though they've been releasing music since 2007 they didn't get nationwide exposure until Seeds was released in 2011. "Yer Fall" is a pretty, love song painted against the backdrop of a textbook Autumn day.

8. "Halloweenhead" - Ryan Adams

Hey Halloween falls at the end of October and what season is October in? Fall! The song describes all the typical things someone would be seeing around that time of year even if it's actually describing someone's struggle with addiction. It comes off of Adams' critically acclaimed album Easy Tiger released in 2007, which in my opinion is a must own for any serious music lover.

9. "October" - Broken Bells

Broken Bells are an Indie-Techno supergroup featuring Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) and James Mercer (Lead singer of The Shins). Their song "October" is a perfect fit for the not-too-hot not-too-cold season of Autumn.

10. "Autumn's Here" - Hawksley Workman

Another famed Canadian, Workman got his start in the Muskoka region of Ontario before moving south to Toronto to take his career to new heights. Almost an indescribable sound and no real genre distinction makes Hawksley Workman a refreshing artist on today's sometimes pale landscape. "Autumn's Here" describes perfectly the feeling of those Summer lovers who wish it's warm embrace would never retreat from the Northern territories. Hawksley is great at lamenting universal emotions.

Thanks for reading!

Look for a big list coming up soon and let's all enjoy ROCKTOBER!!!


Thursday, 11 September 2014

10 Great "House" Songs

Feeling basic this time around. No this isn't 10 songs from the house genre, nor is it songs from the TV show House. Just ten songs about houses or named after them. Any kind of house. Outhouse, doghouse, lighthouse or brick-shit house. 10 Great "House" Songs.

1. Phish - "Farmhouse"

This song is pretty atypical for Phish who are primarily known for their experimental, jazz-fused jam band style of alt rock. "Farmhouse" is chill track with a slight country groove. From the album of the same name it was recorded at Phish's front man Trey Anastasio's Vermont studio known as The Barn. Maybe thats where the vibe came from.

2. Blur - "Country House"

To the other side of the pond we go and find the band once known as Seymour. After they got signed to Food records in 1989 the record company brought along a list of suggested names to rechristen their band as. Though it was near the bottom of the list, they decided on Blur and became one of the UK's best selling bands of the 90's.

3. The Animals - "House Of The Rising Sun"

Fun Fact! If it ever so happens you find yourself in the position to release an album of songs and want a surefire hit, you might consider recording a version of "The House Of The Rising Sun". It's considered public domain as it's origins are from so long ago that it's not quite definite who wrote it. Therefore if you put your own unique tinge on it, you won't have to pay royalties!

4. The Rapture - "House Of Jealous Lovers"

A funky, cow-bell drenched rock song from Pitchfork media's 2003 album of the year Echoes, "House Of Jealous Lovers: was this New York band's biggest hit. A great track that definitely deserves more attention.

5. They Might Be Giants - "Birdhouse In Your Soul"

They Might Be Giants were known for writing and releasing catchy, quirky songs about a variety of subjects. "Birdhouse In Your Soul" is sung from the perspective of a bird-shaped nightlite.  I ain't making this up people. Great song though.

6.  Metallica - "The House Jack Built"

From 1996's Load "The House Jack Built" is one of those Metallica songs that gets stuck in your head and you find yourself repeating the chorus over and over even though you aren't sure where you heard it. Not sure exactly which house they're referencing here, though I think it has to do with the soul and human condition.

7.  Anthrax - "Madhouse"

Let us go even further back into the heavy metal annals and dig up Anthrax's "Madhouse". A hair metal onslaught, but one full of energy and face-melting guitar squeals. "Madhouse" indeed.

8. Madness - "Our House"

Though Madness were one of the UK's biggest groups of the 70's and 80's they didn't garner much attention in North America. Their biggest hit here was "Our House" and it's video saw virtually constant play on MTV in 1983.

9.  Big Wreck - "Under The Lighthouse"

Can't leave any kind of house untouched. "Under The Lighthouse" is a delightful song from Canada's rock powerhouse Big Wreck. After releasing 2 albums in the late 90's and early 2000's they took a hiatus until 2012. That year's Albatross saw Big Wreck fans everywhere sigh a breath of relief when Big Wreck showed us all that the break didn't cramp their infectious style.

10. Mark Lanegan - "Riot In My House"

Mark Lanegan is a legendary name around the Seattle music scene. A founding member of The Screaming Trees, Lanegan would also go on to join the Queens Of The Stone Age, work with Isobel Campbell and have a very impressive solo career.  "Riot In My House" is from his 2012 album Blues Funeral which earned very positive reviews and took him on a tour that spanned over 20 countries.

I know it was simple and basic.

But didn't want y'all to think I had blown it off

Send some suggestions! Let's get ready for Rocktober!!