Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Top 20 Songs of 2016

This is a super late post from an article mostly written at the end of 2016. I like to post the Big Sexy songs of the year. The internet deserves to be filled with this kind of knowledge. Plus, it's a handy place to find the best songs and videos when I'm killing time somewhere. Without further ado, here's what you need to know. 

Fave lyric: "I’ll be dancing like an uncle at a wedding." OR "Doing the running man until my chest hurts."

I love Rizzle Kicks! They have been leaking singles out this year for what I assume is a forthcoming album. Or maybe this is just how all the hip, young Brits release content nowadays. This is such a fun video for such a fun song. Killer movie clips along with some viral clips intermixed with the Rizzles themselves. Outside of that, the song is just happy and upbeat like most Rizzle Kicks songs. Good beat, funny lyrics with a cool English accent. This is right up my alley. Just outside of the Top 20 is another Rizzle Kicks song with another great video, Always Late. I thought the chorus was a little too repetitive to overcome my prejudice of having the same band landing 2 songs in the top 20. But still, check it out. Very few bands are doing funny, story videos.


Fave lyric: "Oh gimme some time. Show me the foothold from which I can climb."
Or "Gimme my, Gimme my, Gimme my, Gimme my, Gimme my way."

This band is a great example of what is wonderful about exploring new music. I had never heard of Foals before this song was performed on Stephen Colbert at end of 2015. However, they have been a very successful band in England. A country I love. A country I mine for new music. How did I miss these guys? There previous album was the NME best album of 2013 topping AM by The Arctic Monkeys, one my two favorite albums of that year. (QOTSA!) This songs builds to a superb crescendo at the end. Feels like we reached the top of the mountain. The album What Went Down also finished in the BS top 5 albums of the year.


Fave Lyric: "I need you like bacon needs eggs."

I am such a sucker for a great bass line. This is a full-on retro-funk number about, well, I never really thought much about it. This song just brings a smile to my face and a swagger to my hips. Maybe it’s just me, but I always bite my lip and give my head the front circle move when I am cruising along. Not bad for a bunch of white guys from Austin. White Denim almost made this list in 2013 with At Night in Dreams.  I was also a big fan of another song off this album, Had 2 Know (Personal).  A little less funky, a little more southern rock, but still cool.
  

They had a wonderful Grammy performance of this song and the Grammy’s suck they they ditched it off YouTube.  Here’s the actual song.

Fave lyric: "And me? I’m the damn fool who shot him."

No art lit my fire nearly as much in 2016 as the musical Alexander Hamilton. And I haven’t even seen it! I have listened to the cast album a thousand times. I have dissected the lyrics and researched the historical importance. The closest musical that touched my life was SpringAwakening. The closest album was American Idiot

Hamilton will be a classic piece of American theater long after I have stopped going to theater, and theater-goers are ooooolllld. It is an amazing piece of art on many levels. I am very much looking forward to seeing the San Francisco tour of the musical in April of 2017, but until then, I get my Hamilton fix from the album, from stolen YouTube moments, from PBS documentaries, from podcasts devoted to the musical and from all of the award shows that they have dominated. There is no way anyone did not hear about Hamilton in 2016.

It is difficult to pick one song from the musical and represent it is the best. Many musicals have that singular song that drags a successful musical to prestige. This musical is a totality. Without a doubt, the Hamilton cast album wins the Big Sexy album of the year. I am putting the introductory song here on my Top 20 list as its representation. This is an excellent introduction to the play. In 3 minutes and 57 seconds, we learn just about everything we need to know in the first 19 years of his life until we pick it up in song 2. It introduces every character, including telling you the guy who kills him at them end. They aren’t trying to hide the plot. Everyone who saw that Got Milk TV ad 20 years ago (or likes American history) knows Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. 


Fave lyric: As with any good comedy song, there are many to choose from, Here’s a good sample:
“She said, “Invade my cave with your special unit”. I said, “He wasn’t in a cave”. But there was no stoppin’.”

I really thought the soundtrack album to the movie that I was sure couldn’t sustain 90 minutes would finally be the album that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy from these fake rappers. I was wrong. Not only was Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping surprisingly good throughout, the hook on this song is so catchy, you will be singing the inappropriate chorus while you are picking apples at Raley’s. I don’t know how many times I have been singing “Fuck Bin Laden” under my breath in public. The soundtrack has several other great songs, but it is not quite as good as the other albums. Still worth a watch and a listen.


Fave lyric: "By the time you hear the next pop, the funk shall be within you."

I know this song came out last year. To Pimp a Butterfly was a Grammy darling early this year and honestly that was when I first gave it a shot. Never really got into the album, but I do love this song. Great beat. I know I’m not his demographic, but we’re more alike than he thinks. I do not like the Patriots or Dodgers. I don’t have a bone pick about people sitting on my throne. I don’t call anyone “bitch”.  I don’t rap. I don’t love Compton. I don’t like motor cycles or hoopties on hydraulics. You know, I might have less in common with him than I do with anyone. Anyway, I want the funk. 


Fave Lyric: “When we’re hungry we all eat the same fuckin’ food. The ramen noodle.” But I do love the chorus. 

The chorus is perfect for how a lot of the country is feeling after the election. With the alt-right rising, it feels like there isn’t as much or a place for many in world. I thought with the election of President Obama, racism was over? I feel like our country has never been more divided.
I got here from their SNL performance in November  I have, of course, heard of Tribe. I knew they were a very influential hip hop group and they had a very good documentary that I still want to see.  The beat in this song is cool. I love the stop and go. I could do without sirens in a song when I driving, but this song needed sirens. In future years, looking back, I bet this song ends up higher on this list.


Fave lyrics: "You made a wish at 11:11, I held your hips at 12:34."

This song takes me to a simple time and place. A place inside a John Hughes movie. Maybe it is because Arkells is a Canadian band and Canada always seems to always be stuck 20 years behind the US culturally. 11:11 is another song that just makes me happy. The best music is music that makes you feel something. This song doesn’t make me reflect thoughtfully on my place in the world. But is does make me feel joy. For that, it is makes the top 10. 11:11 is from a 2014 album, but I just got wind of it this year. I haven’t listened much to their new album out later in 2016, but I plan to see if this is a one hit wonder on this list or if they can enter the Big Sexy list of go-to bands like….


This song really doesn’t even sound much like Green Day. It is more indie pop than indie punk. Green Day is one of my all-time favorite bands. Provider of the best concert I have seen. Provider of one of my favorite albums of all time (American Idiot) as well as a long list of BS hits over the past 25 years. I bet his song is even better live . It needs a little more edge. With all that said, I still really like this song.

Fave lyric: "Daddy’s little psycho and mommy’s little soldier."

This is the more obvious choice for this list as that is a Green Day song.  This song sounds like a lost track form 21st Century Breakdown.


Fave lyric: "All my life you stood by me. No one else was ever behind me…. With your love, nobody can drag me down."

I don’t know from One Direction. I know that a million teenagers and their moms all had a favorite member earlier this decade just as N’Sync did 10 years ago, just as Backstreet Boys did 20 years ago, just like Beatles did 50 years ago. When I heard this funky little number by Weaves, I loved the clunky guitar and the hook of the song. I didn’t know it was a cover. Then I was watching James Corden’s carpool karaoke with One Direction and they broke out this song. The One Direction version of the song isn’t bad either. I just honestly never heard it before. I still like the Weaves cover better, but these haircuts put out a pretty darn good song.


Fave lyric: “This is a low-flying panic attack.” But Radiohead is much more of a sonic feel than lyrics.

I remember when I first got into Radiohead. I had known of them for over a decade, but like most people I know, I could not get past Thom Yorke convulsions and the odd sounds that come from this band. However, they were released an album through their own website and told buyers to just pay what they want. I gave them 2 shillings to give this band a chance. I hadn’t listed too much to my frugal purchase prior to a 3 hour train ride across the French country side. I dialed my ipod over to the album, earbuds firmly tucked in place and zoned out over the soothing rhythm of the train rolling on the tracks. It hit me. Radiohead is a headphone band. I then went back into their catalog of platinum selling albums and found a band I consider one of my favorites of all time, though I have only appreciated them for less than a decade.

Burn the Witch has the sonic feeling of the best Radiohead songs. With nearly all Radiohead songs, they are better with repetitive listens. You need to give this a dozen spins. With headphones on. The song slowly builds and builds until its frantic ending. This song has a similar meaning of the Tribe song above.  Bonus points for the Claymation video.


Fave lyric: "St. Louie. California. Blue Eyes. Yeah, she's comin' for ya."

You don’t have to listen very hard to hear Dan Auerbach’s Black Keys influence on this song. I don’t get the video at all. Block it out and the song is pretty cool. It’s kind of a slacker/funk fusion with a touch of 60;s thrown in. Nothing is remarkable lyrically. The song makes good use of Ah’s, Ooh’s and Oh No's.


Fave lyric: "Son of a bitch. Give me a drink."

I’m not sure if this should be on the O’Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack or if it is a hidden track on an Otis Day & The Knights album.  “Otis, My man!” No matter this upbeat and perky song about not being able to overcome alcoholism is a foot-stomping good time if you don’t pay too much attention to the lyrics. Just buy him a drink.

14. Golden State –Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines            

Fave lyric: "You are the hole in my head. I am the pain in your neck. You are the lump in my throat. I am the aching in your heart."

I tend to like soundtracks. I wouldn’t think I would be the type of person to like soundtracks because I appreciate the art of making an album. I appreciate listening to a collection of songs in the order mixed by the artist. Wearing headphones to transport me to a different place emotionally. But every year, it seems like there is a soundtrack or two that I love. Typically because the soundtrack accentuates a movie or musical to an even higher place. This is the case with Into the Wild. A great book and a great movie with a soundtrack by Eddie Vedder.

I have long loved Pearl Jam. Pearl Jam is going to be inducted into the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame this year!! How old am I?? Didn’t they just break out? I remember their fun performance in Singles, a movie I loved oh so many years ago. (Another great soundtrack, by the way.)

Eddie Vedder as a solo artist blew my mind a little with Into the Wild. I did not expect to like it. Doesn’t he need Stone and Jeff to bring the goods? But the solo work was good. It was different, but good. I stumbled across Golden State this year. It is several years old, but it is great duet about two people in love who are both the good and the bad of their lives. This song is very much “Eddie Vedder” and not “Pearl Jam”, but it is still great. It’s actually a cover of a John Doe (from the band, X) song.


Fave lyric: "The girl in the pastry shop... Is making a cannoli for you to take on your hiking trip…" (it’s much longer but sets the scene well)

Weezer is back with another solid album. They seem to hang around. Weezer haters like to say any new album is no Pinkerton. They are right. It’s not. That is a classic album. Weezer lovers always like to say that Weezer is going back to its roots with every new album realese. They are both wrong. This is a good song that sounds like Weezer but doesn’t make me think it should or shouldn’t be a lost track from a 20 year old album.


Fave lyric: "I did all I could. So kiss this one last time cuz I’m gone for good."

This song makes you want to strut. Good band name, blokes. This British band have a bit of a Queen meets the Strokes vibe. Apparently, this song has been out in England for a couple years, but 2016 was the first time I ever heard of The Struts.


More indie pop! It’s got a fun beat. I never really paid much attention to what dude was signing about. Watching the singer really turned me away from this song, but just when I’m slaving over the elliptical to keep my girlish figure, it is a good song to keep the feet pumping. I should have posted an audio-only link.


Fave lyric: "You make me feel like I’m alive again"

I know it is not cool to like Coldplay. They are the butt of a lot of music jokes. Those jokesters don’t give this band enough credit. I am typically skeptical myself every time there is a new Coldplay release. I wasn’t a fan of their previous album. I figured Gwyneth Paltrow ruined Chris Martin forever. Chris Martin seems like a great guy. Have you seen his CarpoolKaraoke? Of course you have, It is awesome.


Fave lyric: “When and where did we go cold? I thought I had you on hold.”

I have loved The xx for a while as a Big Sexy Headphone Band. I am not sure about this new album yet. Their DJ (?) Jamie xx hit it big in the EDM sce

ne a couple of years ago. He has brought a little too much EDM to The xx for my liking. However, the lead song from the album has enough of what I love about The xx to crack the BS Top 20. The yearning. The loss. The back and forth female/male vocals. Sadly I see the DJ from Popstar every time they hit the bridge. I wish I could find a link to Jorma Taccone wearing an illuminate helmet and pushing a button on his ipod. But I think of it every time I hear this song.


Fave lyric: "Hello."

Stand up bass! This retro sounding song barely cracks in the top twenty. Not sure if I like this song because of the deep female voice or in spite of it. But I do love it.

I do like their cover of Rich Girl. The singer does have some pipes. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Top 20 Songs of 2014

With the stale taste of the Grammy's still bouncing around my mouth, I need to get out the Big Sexy Songs of 2014. Kayne will not be rushing the stage when these winners are announced, but it isn't because Beyonce is getting a BS Statuette. He is gonna lemme me finish.

2014 had some good musical breakthroughs and some welcome returns of old favorites. What is didn't have was any true hits in my estimation. It wasn't easy for me to pair down my top 40 to a top 20 nor was it easy to rank any of the top songs. Any of the top 10 songs could be #1 based on my mood during the day. Alas, someone needs to reign supreme in the land of Big Sexy. This year, that title goes to:

1. Seven Nights Seven Days – The Fratellis

Fave Lyric: I’ll be the comeback kid, on his way home from hell.

Fave Lyric #2: Show me the way brother. Give me a sign sister. I’m not the only one that’s waiting to be born.


What do you know, a fun mime video! You don’t see that every year. Such a welcome comeback by The Fratellis. I loved their debut LP back in 2006 even though I could barely make out the lyrics of this Scottish band. Their second album seemed like it was over produced and the rawness that I love from the band was missing. Then they disappeared. I thought they were gone forever, unless the Chicago Blackhawks scored a goal. 5 years later they are back with the original swagger and really, just the fun that I first loved from them. Check out the whole album, We Need Medicine.

2. Do It with a Rockstar – Amanda Palmer

Fave Lyric: Do you wanna dance, do you wanna fight. Do you wanna get drunk and stay the night. Do you wanna know all the things I do. Do you wanna, do you wanna, do you wanna, do you, do you, do you..”

Followed up later with: Wait, wait, wait. I’ll be fine in a minute.



Amanda Palmer is very theatrical. She is the wife of author Nail Gaiman, who is also a bit odd. I’m not sure what I would think of this song if my first introduction is from the video. I heard the song many times before I saw the video and her unsightly armpits.

My interpretation from the song is that she is a rockstar, out on tour, and is very, very lonely and depressed. She is craving love and attention. She wants him (her?) to come home with her. She will sex him if that is what it takes to have him come home with her. They can talk. They can cry. He can hit her. Whatever. She gets more and more desperate as the song goes along. He is seeing more and more that she is crazy and a bad idea. She sells that he can tell everyone he had sex with a rock star. He’s been giving her all sorts of excuses - his animals are all alone, there’s chicken waiting on the stove, he needs to charge his phone. 

3. The Feast and the Famine – Foo Fighters

Fave Lyric: Where’s is that PMA?



Another great album by who I could probably call my favorite band. They consistently put out good music and Dave Grohl is probably my celebrity man crush. This song is the most rocking song from Sonic Highways. I really wanted to love the HBO series Sonic Highways and I did like it. The best episodes were the ones that specifically influenced Dave, like this one from Washington DC, near where he was raised. I wanted all of them to be like that. My only other knock on the songs from this album are that they feel like Mad Libs. Dave would stick phrases that his interview subjects mentioned during the episode into the song. I feel songs should be more from the heart and mean something personal. It makes the Foos seem more like a song producing machine than I would like to envision my artists. Either way, this song rocks. 

4. Gotta Get Away – The Black Keys

Fave Lyric: I went from San Berdo to Kalamazoo, just to get away from you.



The Black Keys typically have a cool video. This song set to The Addams Family dancing, I do not think is the official video, but it will do. The song is the last song on a bit of an uninspiring album for me. I had big hopes, but only a couple songs stood out for me. I may need to listen to it more. Their refusal to cow to the demands of Spotify made it harder to for me to enjoy since I am now one of the many drones main lining Spotify. Spotify or GTFO.

5. Snap Out of It – Arctic Monkeys

Fave Lyric: I wanna grab both your shoulders and shake, baby, snap out of it.


This album ended up #2 on the 2013 Big Sexy Album list, but I may have listened to this album more than any other in 2014. This song is a little bit more radio friendly than any of their other songs. I originally thought it was that he loves his significant other but she is driving him crazy with her crazy. The more I hear it, the more I think that the singer is talking to a friend that is in love with someone else and he wants him/her to snap out of it so they can hang again. Either way, awesome song.

6. Trainwreck 1979 – Death From Above 1979

Fave Lyric: Cuz I want it all. I can’t get enough.


Years ago, when I just started getting into the heavy electronica rock that is Death From Above 1979, the two member Canadian band up and disbanded on me. I was stuck listening to their first EP and LP over and over while I conquered the elliptical machine. I am so psyched they’re back! I think the new album is a little more accessible than their older stuff, but it still grinds. I’m glad the video shows these guys all sweaty on the stage because that’s how I always pictured them, in a small, hot area, banging heads. 

7. Out of the Black – Royal Blood

Fave Lyric: Don’t breathe when I talk because you haven’t been spoken to.

Fave Lyric #2: I got a gun for a mouth and a bullet with your name on it.


A finalist for Big Sexy New Band of 2014, Royal Blood is just some good old fashioned rock and roll. It is what I would call hard alternative. He seems pretty angry here, but this song kicks all the asses. Royal Blood is a two man band from England, but they sound very American to me. 

8. Who Needs You – The Orwells

Fave Lyric: You better join the army. I said, ‘No thank you, dear old Uncle Sam’.


This young band from Chicago has come on real strong at the end of 2014. Disgraceland is an LP in heavy rotation with me right now. This song has a Strokes feel to them but this album shows a bit of diversity.  The leader singer is kind of an odd ball on stage based on some live clips I've seen. Who Needs You is a pretty happy, quick tune for one that might considered an anti-America song. My take is that is it about loving your family above your country and it’s wars, but there are only about 10 lines in the whole song so who knows. 

9. I’m Not Part of Me – Cloud Nothings

Fave Lyric: I'm not telling you all I'm go through. I'll be fine. 


Back to the crunchy guitar chords and angsty singing of the Cloud Nothings. I really liked their last album but really haven’t listened too much of the new one yet. I love this front single though. It’s a catchy punky song. I think the song is about putting his past behind him and being a new person now that he doesn't have the other person that was a part of him. He’s no longer that part of himself. 

10. Sea of Love – The National

Fave Lyric: Hey Jo, sorry I hurt you but, they say love is a virtue, don’t they.



I love Matt Berninger’s baratone voice. It really accentuates his sorrowful lyrics. This song goes the other way for The National. This time, the singer is the dumper not the dumpee. That’s a pretty cold break up lyric up above to tell someone that loves you but you don’t feel the same way. 

11. Whisky Saga – The Fratellis

Fave Lyric: Here lies the remains of every girl I have loved.

Fave Lyric #2: Pitchforks pointed my way and it’s no coincidence.


I told you I loved this album! This another fun, almost a rockabilly song from The Fratellis. I couldn't keep this song off the Top 20. It is just makes me too happy. 

12. Lazarreto – Jack White

Fave Lyric: When I say nothing, I say everything.



I have loved Jack White for a long time now. This song is as good as I would expect from him. Nice, squealing guitar break in the middle, right before a slow down. A little electric violin. I like the Spanish thrown in near the beginning, even though I don’t know what it or the song even means. Keep rocking you pale freak. 

13. I Won’t Let You Down – Ok Go

Fave Lyric: Maybe all you need is someone to trust, maybe all you need is someone.



Another fun choreographed video from the kings of it. But I liked the song before I ever saw the video. Just a happy, positive song. Nothing too deep. Just happy.  

14. Hometown Girls – The Strypes

Fave Lyric: I reek of sweat and teenaged innocence.



It’s the Beatles 50 years on. Except these guys are all teenagers, with fast rock songs. I can hear girls screaming in the background when I hear them. Nice guitar solo in the middle of the song. These kids sing about being shy around girls but I bet they are pulling just fine. 

15. Fancy – Iggy Azalia w/ Charlie XCX



I almost hate myself for how much I like this song. Complete guilty pleasure. I don’t like Iggy Azalia in general or her butt implants. I think it is that synth beat that runs through the whole song. When those first 5 beats hit before any other music, I have a good feeling. I would like to assume they know they cannot drive from LA to Tokyo, but I wonder. 

16. Rumble and Sway – Jamie N Commons

Fave Lyric: Don’t tell me no truths, I want all of your lies.


Nice funky little number here. Very soulful voice on this white boy. This song sounds very old school. 

17. I Wanna Get Better – Bleachers


This is a pretty popular song and my Venn Diagram of songs that are very popular and songs that I really like is usually pretty slim. This is just an uplifting song for me with a good beat and a nice guitar break. Hard to not love the infectious, dun-dun-dun-dundun, pounding on the keys. 

18. Washing Dishes – Jack Johnson

Fave Lyric: Who took the time and where did they take it?


I mentioned the Foo Fighters consistency earlier and the same can be said for Jack Johnson. This is just a pretty love song on a guitar that makes me think of being at the beach. He keeps doing it, so I’m going to keep praising him. 

19. Twerk It Like Miley – Brandon Beal



Here’s a cool and funky beat beneath a pop culture reference. I DJ/announce for our high school football team and dropped the first 60 seconds of the song during a timeout. The head of the cheerleaders came up and told me that this song was inappropriate. I say, at least, at this part of the song, he is just seeing a girl on the dance floor. Hey, I don’t come to your work and knock the dicks out of your mouth. I didn’t play it again despite seeing all the suggestive moves she was teaching for the halftime show. 

20. Left Hand Free – alt-J



Alt-J is sliding into Dave Matthews territory for me. I very much think I should like them, but I’m having a hard time embracing them. They have been mentioned in the same vein as Radiohead, but aside from being British, I have a hard time making too much of a connection. I do like the funky twang working in this song. It is by far my favorite song of theirs. However, this song barely slides onto the Top 20 of this year. 

21. Cubs in Five – The Mountain Goats


I had to add a #21 because I couldn't get this song out of my head all year. Maybe it isn't TOp 20 worthy, but try to get the chorus out of your head. I already talked a lot about this song in a previous post, so I won’t here. It is a hard song to get out of your head if you can get past the poor production quality. This is an almost 20 year old song showing up on my top songs of 2014, but I listened to this over and over this year, so here it is.  You've never heard it anyway.

Honorable Mention:

I said it was hard for me to narrow it down. These barely made the list and on some days should be on it. I loved them all at one time or another through the year. Presented in no particular order...

Dangerous - Big Data

Miracle Mile - Cold War Kids


Underworld - Brody Dale


Wait a While - The Hold Steady


Like a Fool - Kiera Knightly 


To Hell With Good Intentions - McKlusky



Tell Her - Rizzlekicks


Rent I Pay - Spoon


Fever - The Black Keys


There it is! 30 songs that all get the Big Sexy seal of approval. 2015 is already starting strong. I hope to have an equally hard time paring the list at the end of the year.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Baseball Songs

If April wasn’t such an outrageously busy month in my life at this point in it, it would easily be my favorite month. It holds the birthdays of some of the most important people in my life. Spring is such a positive time of year. The sun is out longer and more often. The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin, which is the best playoffs in sports. And baseball begins! As a Mariners fan, April is about the length of the typical Mariners season, before they are playing for next year. The way the last week has gone for them, you can tell April is about over.

One of the cool things about this April is that I have discovered two baseball themed songs from two of my favorite bands. I love stumbling across old music from bands I love. I am always amazed that can happen. I am a bit of a completest of my favorite bands. My favorite workday time waster website, Deadspin has been running a series of extreme slow motion replays overlaid by indie music. They dropped Cubs in Five by The Mountain Goats on this clip during the first week of the season. Here is the link to the whole song with a funny banana picture.

I’ve had the pleasure of being to Wrigley a several occasions. There is no way that you can go to Murphy’s before a game, sit in the bleachers with 50 new friends, hit the Cubby Bear after and not have a soft spot in your heart for the Cubs. When I’m root, root, rooting for the Cubbies at Wrigley, I don’t care if I never get back.

Cubs in Five isn't really about the Cubs at all. It is from the mid-90’s so the references to the Tampa Bay Bucs, who were the NFL’s version of the Cubs until about 2000, don’t make as much sense today. The Cubs winning, is basically saying “when pigs fly”. That is when our protagonist will love his former flame as much as he used to again. I cannot get the verse out of my head when I hear it. I think since John Darnielle is such a bad singer (but great song writer!), it encourages me to belt out the lyrics myself. At least when I’m alone. And my windows are rolled up.

One of my absolute favorite bands, The Hold Steady, have a new album out this spring. I suggest everyone give it a few spins, then save it to their favorites on their Spotify playlists. Originally from Minnesota, Craig Finn, The Hold Steady’s singer/songwriter, is a big Twins fans. He did a song called Don’t Call Them Twinkies that was hidden away on some baseball songs compilation. I bet this song would be even better if I was a lifelong Twins fan. I did have the pleasure of seeing a game in a sold out Metrodome and wave a Homer Hankey forever ago, but the experience didn’t make me a fan. My soft spot for the twins came 16 years ago in April.  I like the video to go along with the words. Makes it easier to follow for non-fans that are learning Twins history, not reliving it.

Now that I have found these songs, I am searching for more! What other of my favorite bands have baseball songs?? I know Eddie Vedder did a Cubs song . As a Pearl Jam fan, I would have preferred a Mariners song, but I’m glad it’s not this one. This is more of an Irish drinking song. Low marks.

Do The Black Keys have a Reds anthem? Does Queens of the Stone Age have a hidden track extolling the virtues of Dodger Stadium? Does Arcade Fire have an old Expos expose? Perhaps Foo Fighters’ My Hero was about Randy Johnson.


If you come across any, lemme know. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Top Cool Out Songs of 2013

If I haven’t done my taxes, it’s still 2013, right?? I love great, upbeat songs to energize a lackluster workout, to promote car dancing on a long drive and to help celebrate good times. On the flippity flip, I love a good cool out song to help me chill out when I’m feeling stressed, to enjoy peaceful times around Le Maison Maves and to really connect with my inner sexy. Cool out songs are not just sappy ballads. In fact, many of my favorite Cool Out songs of all time will contain a hard rocking bit and some slamming guitars. Cool outs can either touch my heart OR my soul and this soul needs to be chill. I know a song is a contender for the Top Cool Out when I want to turn down the lights, throw some shades on and just deeply feel. This was a down year overall of music, but I was still easily able to find 10 excellent cool out songs for you to experience.

Cool out songs are typically better audio-only and through speakers that will block out the rest of the world. That isn’t the best way to share these with you here. I suggest you make yourself a Spotify playlist of these songs, throw on some imitation Beats headphones (because please don’t spend $200 on headphones!), close your eyes and enjoy the next 45 minutes.


Here's a few versions of this song in addition to clicking the link in the title. 




Fave Lyric: So many to choose from! Here are 3…

                 The opener: “I want God to come and take me home, because I’m all alone in this crowd.”

                The chorus: “Does anyone get this right? I feel no love.”

                “I survived. I speak. I breathe. I’m alive. Hooray. “

I’ve already expounded my love for this song in the Big Sexy Top 20 of 2013 in its place of a most excellent quartet of songs on the Big Sexy Album of the 2013 (Spoiler Alert!), ...Like Clockwork.  I knew Elton John made an appearance on Like Clockwork. After hearing the piano introduction to this song which was preceded by a very Elton note-hum (from Sixty Years On from his Live in Australia album that I loved), I was sure this was it. It wasn't. After a while the piano is joined by a My Guitar Gently Weeps guitar. I love the lyrics. I love the anguish. He is so miserable. He has overcome a death defying experience, but he doesn't seem too happy to have made it because all of his demons have also survived. I’m not sure why I love the lyrics so much, because I don’t relate to it. I think it is because the music and the delivery of the lyrics has transported me to a place where I can feel his pain.
 

Fave Lyric: Again, so many to choose just one...

“I don’t know why I put up with this shit. You won’t put out and Zip City’s so far away.”

“Keep your drawers on girl, it ain’t worth the fight. By the time you drop them I’ll be gone and you will be right where they fall the rest of your life. “

“You’re only 15 girl, you ain’t got no secretary, and ‘for granted’s’ a mighty big word for a country girl like you. I think that’s just your daddy talking.”

As with the top songs of the year, I may have already discussed them by now. DBT was my band of the summer, but this Cool Out song from over a decade ago still sticks with me as a proto-typical cool out song. It’s another song that tells a story. It is about a teenager coming to grips with growing away from his younger girlfriend. You can tell he is ready to move on and not just from her but from his teenaged behavior. He is tired of the long drive to see her, her daddy and the pressures he is feeling just to be with her not just actual but also implied.


Fave lyric: I’m already fighting me, so what’s another one?

I love Jack White. I can’t believe this 2011 song slipped by me until this year. I heard it first on the radio, of all places. (Who listens to the radio anymore??) I was shocked to hear he had a new album coming out. Nope. Just him singing on a Danger Mouse release. I only think of Danger Mouse as a super producer and the skinny half of Gnarls Barkley. Jack White actually features on three songs on this album, but this song is the keeper. I wish I could un-hear the others. Well, they are not that bad, but I’m not surprised I haven’t heard those. This has an excellent slow jam.


The link is from a recent appearance on Saturday Night Live. Here is the link to the official video: 

Fave lyric: Davy says that I look taller. I keep feeling smaller and smaller.

I love emotional lyrics. If there is a singer today that speaks more to things in my mind, heart and soul, it very well might be Matt Berninger. I am very much looking forward to their doc, Mistaken for Strangers. Here is the awesome trailer. It gives me goose bumps. I love this band so much.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OeSAUNvpvY  It looks to be a lot more about a relationship between brothers that live in very different worlds and not just a concert film.

Back to this song… As with most The National albums, I need to hear them multiple times and even read the lyrics before I can really get into it and Trouble Will Find Me was no different. After hearing it dozens of times, I can say that I think it the album is phenomenal. I know they are just not accessible to people at first or second listen, but give them an extended chance and maybe they can reach you.

This is not a simple love song, as the title and video suggest and repeated chorus would make you think. The National cannot do videos because the songs mean too much. This song brings tears to my eyes when I relate it to my sweet, oldest son. This song is about a boy who has always struggled a bit to be successful but he is “good and grounded”. He has left home, presumably to college. As he is growing up he is feeling more and more overwhelmed by life. He is coming home to see his girlfriend that he left behind. He needs her because he doesn’t feel that he can be himself with his family or the friends he hangs with. He wants to recapture that safe and happy place in his life where his heart is at home. I hope this isn’t how he goes for my boy. Maybe it was how I felt and I’m projecting it on him. Maybe I need some help.
  

This is a bad audio recording of this song. Find it on Spotify.

Toadies are one of my long-time favorite bands, but no one knows much of them despite their enormous one-hit status in the early 90s. They take a long time between albums but rarely disappoint, even when Vaden Todd Lewis goes off and does stuff with other people and calls them Burden Brothers. Beside You is an excellent track that would find itself at home on any of their albums. Unfortunately, much in the way Pearl Jam and Kings of Leon put out good but not great albums this year, Toadies did the same. Sadly, the only video I can find gives you a bad audio recording of the song. Find it on Spotify and rock out with you sunglasses on.


Can you believe my bank QOTSA covered this???

Fave lyric: It’s 3 in the morning, and I’m trying to change your mind. Left you multiple missed called and to my message you reply, “Why’d you only call me when you’re high?”

This has a great bass and drum line. And a very simple question being posed to our narrator. Cheeky! Our narrator would like to have a late night relationship with his paramour, but she doesn’t want to just be a booty call.  Simple and funny.


Fave lyric: You can cry and I won’
t go. You can scream and I won’t go. Every man that you know would’ve run at the word go.

With an evocative title like Porno, you might think this would have some racy lyrics and 70’s style bass. It is quite the opposite. It does have a cool vibe to it. I think the song is about a man telling his love that he will stay with her through the bad times and any warts she may have now that really know each other. Whereas other immature men would have only treated her like a man would treat a woman in a porno until the woman is sick of it.


Fave lyrics: 1. I’ll go to college and I’ll learn some big words and I’ll talk REAL LOUD. Goddamn right I’ll be heard.

2. I still love her. Loved her more when she used to be sober and I was kinder.

Another old song. I cannot believe that I keep finding old songs from one of my favorite bands. I’ve been into Modest Mouse for years now, but I wasn’t on to them until they achieved some popularity. They were already indie giants by then.

It is a pretty negative song that starts with apostles selling out Jesus for new sandals and moves to angels selling your soul for a set of new wings. Then in modern times, colleges selling education to people that they don’t need and finishes very personal with the narrator finally learning to come clean and be himself to his lover, but now she has been ruined by his previous “selling” of himself and being a jerk. Everything sucks!


Pearl Jam is aging well. Even though I wasn’t wild about this album, they can still rock and they can still hit on a great cool out song. On this album, the ballad Sirens has gotten some run, but I much prefer the slow drums and creeky winds on this song about live passing you by.



Since I don’t like to re-use artists, I am going to split # 10 among two of my favorite albums of the year that already hit this list. Wonderful song about waking from a comma but being changed. The whole first verse is my favorite lyric – “Calling all Comas: Prisoner on the loose. Description: A spitting image of me with heart-shaped hole where the hope runs out.” This song builds into a bit of a rocking crescendo, which I love in my cool out songs.


Fave lyric – Don’t tell anyone I’m here. I brought Tylenol and Beer


This song about friends with benefits is as typical from The National, sorrowful. His lover is so awesome when they are together but she is toxic. They can’t have a real relationship. He is surprised she keeps asking him over and thinks she should have someone closer to her to help her through her problems. He’s just a quick fix “Tylenol and Beer”. He swears that “This is the Last Time” he is coming over. You get the feeling he is trying to convince himself and he will be back over next time she’s high at 3 in the morning. I love the ending. It is crashing and passionate when he is swearing that he won’t be vacant anymore.  Then there is a little almost pillow talk where he confesses he is in trouble. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Big Sexy Top 20 Songs of 2013

I am a glass half full type of guy. At least I like to see myself that way. My knee has been killing me for a long time, but I can see the day in which I can round third base, pain-free, legs pumping as fast as they can, and be thrown out by 30 feet at the plate. I look forward to running down the sideline of my son’s football game as part of the chain gang after their defense has given up another long play.

When I look back at 2013 musically, I think of the new bands I was turned onto, the bands I just now have started to appreciate to their fullest and some of the good times music has given me. This was the year that Spotify has changed the way I listen to/own music. It was the year Key & Peele taught me what “dub-step” actually sounds like. (Key & Peele was a wonderful addition to my life in 2013! If you are not watching it yet, please do.)

I haven’t figured out the theme of the Top 20 of 2013 yet. 2011 was the year is foul language. 2012 was the year of horns. Maybe by the end of this post, I will figure it out. Without further ado, I present the Big Sexy Top 20 songs of 2013. Wait, here’s a little more ado: New rule for this year on top of the “it doesn’t really have to be from 2013, just new to ME” in 2013 is that I didn’t want to repeat any bands in the Top 20. Also, this Top 20 is more of the “Upbeat Top 20” as the Top Cool Out Songs will be released soon and many of those are some of my absolute favorite songs of the year. Is that enough ado? Make sure to click on the highlighted text for video accompaniment. 


Fave Lyric: She’s up all night till the sun. I’m up all night to get some. She’s up all night for good fun. I’m up all night to get lucky.

Yes, it’s disco. Yes, the lyrics are a little repetitive. But, this was easily the song of summer, despite some people that were influenced by the other Pharrell Williams collaborated song with the naked girls and son of the 80’s sitcom dad. There is just a great groove to this song. Even though I have heard it hundreds of times by now, it still makes my hips wiggle and my soul smile. Does that Fave Lyric above not spell out the conflicting attitudes of guys in the club?

The video in the link is the official video of the song. Kinda boring, but it does remind you that these French wierdos always were helmets. Vive le robots! Another favorite TV/Music crossover is this video from “Stephest Colbchella‘013” showing that this song makes everyone want to dance. Ima steal his spinning dance move with the arms up halfway. Watch out, Mrs. Sexy!


Fave Lyric: I sat by the ocean. And drank a potion, baby, to erase you. Face down in the boulevard, yeah, I couldn’t face you.

I am always a little worried when a band I really, really love comes out with a new album. QOTSA has been one of my favorite bands for nearly a decade, but due to Josh Homme’s health issues and the fact that he apparently cannot work with the same people in his band for very long, they have not released a new album in four years.

I don’t love the first song on the album. In fact in might be my least favorite song in the whole playlist. I was very nervous. But then the second song, I Sat by the Ocean kicks off as good of a quartet of songs as I can remember. In fact it’s those four songs, as a group, which belong in this slot. It starts with a kinda whiny, slide guitar lick and is joined by the Fave Lyric about 30 seconds in. It just sets the tone for some sour news ahead for clearly a troubled man. This song shows the angst of someone who clearly is nearing bottom. The chorus is “you, me and your lies”. I don’t think these kids are going to work out. It has all of cool swagger I love from the Queens. He is clearly rocking by the end of the song. 

The album then segue ways beautifully into one of the Top Cool Outs, The Vampyre of Time and Memory . Climbs out slowly into If I Had a Tail  and wraps up with the blistering My God is the Sun. Epic!


Fave Lyric: Wanna be fit but I don’t like runnin, then I see you I wish I done sumthin.

Had a hard time picking one song off of one of my favorite albums of the year. Down with the Trumpets was the Big Sexy song of 2012. RIzzle Kicks came right back out in 2013 with an even stronger album even if they were unable to crack the top song of the year. This is still a fun song sampling one of my favorite One Hit Wonder songs of all time, EMF’s Unbelievable. I love this cheeky British band’s happy hip hop. They love horns and just having fun. It is infectious. They want everyone to have fun with them. I bet their concerts are just one big party. I’m not surprised the video is fun as well. This band doesn’t quell my desire to move to London.


Fave Lyric: Put our hands UP like the ceiling can’t hold us.

I know this list is kinda mainstream so far considering my typical musical influences, but Macklemore cannot be denied this year. There are a ton of versions of this song out there: pretty white girl acoustic, GaelicOhio State Marching Band, and my favorite, over highlights of the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl.   I know it is white guy wrap, but the drop into the Ray Dalton verses and the female background singers and the horns really make this song. In fact, there might be too much Macklemore. It’s a high energy song that makes me bob my head when I hear it. I can’t even considerate it rap (and neither can rap fans who put their own hands up when the Grammy was announced).


Fave Lyric: I know I know I know you’re gonna be ok anyway.

This can’t-break-up song really started hitting big after the sisters appears on SNL a few months back. It’s got a catchy, hand-clap feel and is just a good song. Pretty funny video of the poor broken hearted dumpees.


Fave Lyric: We got hella people. They got helicopters.

Love this Wiz inspired video. The Coup is a funk rock protest band from Oaktown. Preach! This album hit me at the end of 2012, but this song didn’t hit heavy rotation for me until 2013. Many choice cuts off their album Sorry to Bother You. Give it a spin and fight the power.


Fave Lyric: [heavy Breathing with the Drums]

Kanye West is crazy. The question is, is he crazy like a fox or just crazy like a nut job? There has never been a more narcissistic public performer. No one loves Yezzus like Yezzus. As much as I want to dislike this guy, it is impossible to not love this drum intro. This beat is one that stays with you. Big ups to the guy who made this video so I don’t have to look at Kanye while I watch. I haven’t seen The Wolf of Wall Street but this song’s inclusion in the trailer only makes me want to see it more. Plus, I love this gif of a dancing Leonardo.


Fave Lyric: I can fuhk or I can fight, it don’t matter to me.

KOL get their rock back on in this hard rock burner. This song is short and sweet. It doesn’t quite take me to where I think they used to be. It’s new. It is like a combination of old KOL and QOTSA. This song is a standout on their mostly ok album released this year. It is a good album in a down year for albums. This song would be choice in any year. The album will not be considered one of my favorite albums by this band.


Fave Lyric: None

I love the animated video! I feel very much the same about this song and album as I just mentioned in the Kings of Leon comment. Good album in a down year for albums. This song is a clear standout. Not one of my favorite Pearl Jam albums of all time. This song sounds a lot like Spin the Black Circle from a classic PJ album from 20 years ago. 


This is an album that I loved. I know it is a comedy album, but they really do have some serious chops. This is the probably the cleanest song on the album. There are several fun yet catchy songs on the album. This song has an Adam Levine chorus and a Kenrdrick Lamar verse and has a good beat. It is a clever take on the already played out YOLO tag line that all the kids liked to throw around for about 6 months. Man, the expiration date on cool things gets shorter and shorter. As an old guy, I can certainly see the lesson of YOLO is to be extra careful not extra dangerous.


Fave Lyric: I know there’s better brothers, but you’re the only one that’s mine.

This a discovery band. This song is from 2006, but I love the unique sound these guys are putting out. A deeper baritone than The National. This song has kind of a punk-rockabilly hybrid. Is that a violin in this song? I was sure this band was from Texas, especially after hearing Spring Break-1899 (that will be on the Cool Out list), but I was surprised to hear they are from the Midwest. This is a great song about a guy still being loyal and loving to his loser brother despite all the years of misdeeds. I love that it tells a story all the way through.


Fave Lyric: Simmer down and pucker up. OR Ever thought of calling when you’ve had a few? Cause I always do.

(Watch the video full screen on as big of a screen as possible!) Arctic Monkeys came back with a strong album this year, helped out by the one and only, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age. It is easy to hear his influence throughout the record, but specifically on this song. With a different voice, I would think this WAS the Queens of the Stone Age. However, I do love his accent. This song has the same cool rock swagger that I love from QOTSA. This song is about a guy who is infatuated with a girl but is afraid to find out if his feelings are requited.


Fave lyric: I know my life can be my life

Nice driving beat. The song seems like a throwback to something for me, but I can’t put my hand on it. This song ended up growing on me. I don’t think I ever thought it would end up on the Top 20 when I first heard it.


Fave Lyric: do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do

I know this is poppy and/or hipster, but it just sticks with me and I love it. This might not be a band or song that I love if I heard it too much, but in 2013 I heard it just the right amount. This band actually has another very listenable pop song called Fred Astaire which sounds like a poppy Strokes. 


Fave lyric : If that’s what’s normal now, I don’t wanna know.

I really ended up loving Arcade Fire’s last album, The Suburbs, after I was a bit incredulous as to why they had such a positive independent reputation. I didn’t get it. I eventually did get it and don’t know why I was missing it for so long. I have listened to their long awaited follow up for quite a bit now and it does not approach The Suburbs or their wonderful 2004 album, Funeral, that I only discovered after falling for the band. I keep giving it chances because I expect it to click with me eventually. But maybe Arcade Fire will fall in line with Pearl Jam and Kings of Leon of being a band I love that put out a record that I don’t necessarily love. This song has a harder edge that Arcade Fire can put together every once in a while. It has a jangly piano and kind of a Pixies sound to it. So far, at least, this song is a stand out on another “not top” album of a band I like.


Fave lyric: You’re too mean, I don’t like you. Fuck you anyway.

I love the dreamy sound of the band, The XX. The XX are very sparse, with a kind of atmospheric mellow pop sensibility. The Neighborhood sounds a lot like The XX to me in a good way. They are a little harder and don’t have the female give and take. They had a big hit in another good song, SweaterWeather. That song is a little overplayed and not quite as good as Afraid.


Fave lyric – Fall in, fall in, fall in.

Cloud Nothings were a new band for me last year and made the Top 20 with Stay Useless from the same album, Attack on Memory. Fall In is a quick blast of energy. The singer has a rawness to his voice and you can’t really understand what he is saying when he really gets going, but the tone chorus of “Fall In” seems like that is what is going on – there is some frantic mess that you can’t understand, then you “Fall in, fall in, fall in”.


Fave lyric – o o o o o o o oo o, o o o o o oo o

Welcome back to the ‘80s! I am a sucker for repetitive nonsense words in an upbeat song. I had no chance against this song.


This song kinda fits with Fitz above for me. This is such a happy song and the video is so positive. I think I am going to burst from happy feelings watching it! Watch for my cameo at the 1:48 mark of this video. At least that how I saw myself when I was kicking around town with a walker.


Fave lyric - You’re from the 70’s but I’m a 90’s bitch.

This song is bordering on overplay and it has suffered from it. I’m going to sneak it on the list as I thought it was a very cool song when it came out. These Swedes give zero fucks. The song hit big when it was used as the musical score Lena Dunham’s cocaine blow out on Girls. It has now transitioned to being the music for the latest Bratz movie. That is a very large drop in coolness. Not being a fan of either cocaine nor Bratz, my enjoyment of the song happened in the middle of its coolness.

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There it is. The Big Sexy Top 20 Songs of 2013. A little tardy. I’m sure these are all in the rearview mirror now, but hopefully there is a new nugget or two that you can take out of it and enjoy in 2014. I suppose the theme is non-sense poppy songs and disappointing albums from superstars of rock. That isn’t a great theme. I’ll keep noodling…