Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Desert Island Discs = 4

This is my final installment of my Desert Island Discs list.  I may add another column with some "Greatest Hits" CD's that are my faves at some later date.  I also may add a Global/International list but for now, I will stick with these...  Enjoy.


Pete Yorn - Muscforthemorningafter

If you haven't discovered Pete Yorn, yet, you are REALLY missing out.  Although under the radar, he has put out several VERY good albums.  Nightcrawler and Day I Forgot are excellent and I almost listed Back and Forth instead of my ultimate choice.  I listen to them all and they never disappoint.

Musicforthemorningafter was his debut album and for this, it gets the nod.  Incredible.  It may take a few listens but do it.  Now.  This is pop with a meaning.

Here is Pete and part of his band performing my second favorite Pete Yorn song, Paradise Cove, live in San Diego.  Enjoy.

Miracle Legion - The Backyard

This 1983 classic is one introduced to me only recently from my Brother in Law - Hank Everett.  He has great taste in music and knows my taste pretty well.  This is one of his favorites also and when we found it on iTunes I downloaded it, based on his recommendation.  No real memories here, just a simple 7 songs of jangle pop that is really good.  Reminds me of the Jayhawks, a bit, without the harmonies.  Also reminds me of early R.E.M. "The Backyard" title track is my favorite.  "Butterflies", "Closer to the Wall" and "Just Say Hello" are great.  Happy music.  College music.  Indie.  Whatever.  Makes me think of simpler days, first love and growing up without a care in the world.

Peter Gabriel - So

I saw Peter Gabriel in concert in the early 90's and he was incredible.  He is a great artist and visionary, in music, video and showmanship.  Us is another great album but So really delivers a thoughtful punch in the gut.  Everybody knows "Sledgehammer" "Red Rain" and "Big Time", which are excellent and were popular hits.  For me, "Don't Give Up", "In Your Eyes" and "Mercy Street" are the best on the album.  They have a message, poignant and emotional and timeless in their message of despair, hope and love.  This reminds me of just returning back from my mission and dating.  This is a classic album for a classic time in my life.

Goo Goo Dolls - Dizzy Up the Girl

In my mind, the Goo Goo Dolls have two personalities.  That's convenient given they have two main members also:  Johnny Rzeznik and Robby Takac.  Each seems to take the band on a different direction.  I am really a Johnny Rzeznik fan and his style of music.  It started with "Name" on their CD "A Boy Named Goo."  It really grew when I played Dizzy Up the Girl for the first time.  DUTG is wall to wall excellence.  It has an urgency and longing associated with the songs - a finely woven dichotomy of rough times but upbeat hope in the songs.  I love "Dizzy", "Slide", "Broadway", "Black Balloon" and of course "Iris."  "All Eyes On Me" is also very good as is "Acoustic #3".  Roll down the windows of your car, open the sunroof on a sunny day and crank this one up.  Great driving music.

Sting - Nothing Like the Sun

I love Sting (and the Police).  He has been quite an innovator in the music world.  Sophisticated but edgy.  Very aware of the present and very confident.  It is hard to pick the best CD from his catalog but I have to choose one - it is this one.  Cover to cover a great listen.  Groovy.  Diverse.  Global.  Listen to "Lazarus Heart", "Be Still My Beating Heart", "Englishman in New York", "They Dance Alone" and "Fragile."  Excellent music.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Desert Island Discs = Part 3

In a continuing quest to communicate my love for certain CD's, beginning to end, here is the third installment of my mini-series.  No "Greatest Hits" packages and no international stuff - that will come later.  Also in no particular order....


Del Amitri - Twisted

Some may recognize this band from Scotland from their semi-hit "Roll To Me"from this album.  A catchy little song that fits well on this selection.  Our family even did a little lip sync skit to it (with Garrett, Drew and Hannah as the stars of the show).  Still, there is a lot more to this band and this album.  "Here and Now", "Never too Late to Be Alone", "Tell Her This" are a must.  "Driving with you Brakes On" was even remade by a Canadian Country band and went on to be a bit hit up there.  This was another one I picked up in Minneapolis - reminds me the summertime there.  Upbeat, catchy tunes with great vocals and musicianship.  Great driving music.

R.E. M. - Out of Time

Don't have to say much about the band itself.  They practically invented 'college rock' in the 80's.  Simply a great and talented group.  I have most of their works and I particularly like their early to mid-career stuff.  "Automatic for the People" was their last great album, cover to cover.  Once they moved into "Monster" and "New Adventures In Hi-Fi", they were good but spotty.

Out of Time is their masterpiece.  They had started out as college darlings taking music in some different directions with earlier works but by the time they made Out of Time they had really hit their stride.  Confident.  Coherent.  Musically beautiful.  All in all another upbeat CD but it has some slower moments.  The mandolin addition on "Losing My Religion" was reported to be an afterthought, go figure!  "Near Wild Heaven", "Texarkana", "Me in Honey", and "Half a World Away" are incredible.

AC/DC - Back in Black

Growing up this was my favorite band.  They were the first concert I ever went to (Legend City, Phoenix Arizona, "For Those About to Rock" tour).  How my mom EVER let me go still amazes me.  I love their earlier music - Bon Scott was an incredible vocalist and even today, most of my favorite songs from the group are sung by him.  Still, if I have to pick an album - one that I would need on my Desert Island, it would be Back in Black.  It is a reaction.  It calls you.  It raises your heart rate.  It makes you feel invincible.  I admit, at an early age I wasn't sure what they were talking about in the lyrics...  I know now.  Definitely not P.G.

The concert sequence where the ring "Hells Bells" at the beginning - unforgettable.  "Shoot to Thrill", "Given the Dog a Bone" and the title track are my favorites.  I used to haul this one over on my bike to Tracy Crockett's house and listen to it as loud as we could with all my friends (Amy Benjamin, Bart Massey, etc.)  Great times!

Coldplay - A Cold Rush of Blood to The Head

What a great and talented band.  I really enjoy their music.  Not as moody as Radiohead - more mainstream and melodic - but they remind me of Radiohead as they still make very interesting music and generate a lot of sound and emotion when they play.

This was my introduction to Coldplay.  It was on a regular rotation a few years ago in my car CD player - I listened to it a lot.  I have since picked up every album they have made.  Others are very good but this one is their best.  They were just becoming very popular but hadn't really hit mainstream yet.

This one reminds me of mountains, Banff, Calgary, pine trees and cooler weather.  It is sophisticated but accessible.  Hard to pick favorite tracks but listen to "Warning Sign" and "Green Eyes" hidden in the middle of the CD.  The whole thing is good but those two are gems.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

John Durant Guest Post: Treasure Soul Part 1

My close friend John Durant has graciously given me Part 1 of his list favorite albums...  I have known John for a long time and he has impeccable taste in music.  I have to say, I am surprised by a couple of his choices (which makes it all the more fun to read).  Here you go....


Thanks to David for letting me guest post. I add my own list of album essentials. To make this list they must be records I listen to all the way through, and they sometimes records I didn’t fall in love with first time through. But, with each listening they unfold in some mysterious way that makes them special. They are all much better on vinyl--- so get them that way if you can.

Modest Mouse – The Lonesome Crowded West

Most of the records I love are hard to quickly put in a category. Is this punk music? Maybe. Alt-rock? Maybe. In the end it doesn’t matter. It’s a jangly art house rock meditation on relationships, religion, consumerism— the entire human condition, but with such incredibly memorable melodies on songs like “Cowboy Dan” or “Bankrupt on Selling”. The lyrics are equally memorable such as, “In this place that I call home, my brain’s the cliff and my heart’s the bitter buffalo.” It is glorious colors of gray and blue. I never tire of hearing it through.

David Bowie – Low

David responded once to the question about which of his music did he love the most, and he said it was his favorite record—that if you were to cut his veins he would bleed “Low”. Thankfully he spared a vial of that blood and gave us this record. It starts out with what one would expect from Bowie—things that one would likely find on Space Oddity or other Ziggy-style records. But, then he does what we really expect—the unexpected. Side B of the vinyl record has collaborations with Brian Eno. Listen to “Warszawa.”  This and the rest of the tracks become precursor ambient music/orchestral masterpieces. It is nearly unheard of yet entirely unforgettable if you have the patience to give it a chance.

Metallica – And Justice For All

This band figured out faster than its peers that just doing thrash metal faster and faster had diminishing returns. And, the result is this often overlooked record with songs about soldiers returning from war (“One”) and a yearning for color in a world gone black (“Blackened”). James Hetfield is a very deep dude, and even as a young kid he fearlessly made metal more than just long hair and shredding the guitar. For example, “Darkening in vain, decadence remains. All is said and done; never is the sun.” His themes are not clich├ęs, and most metal groups since them have trafficked in pathetic imitations of what Hetfield expressed with forceful genuineness. Production quality on their earlier records was very very weak, and they finally moved away from such thin sounds to a richer, deeper texture—although they didn’t get the studio sound truly right until the “black” album. Nevertheless, these songs are stronger than anything they did until Death Magnetic.

Smashing Pumpkins – Oceania

Billy reformed the band in 2007, and after some lineup changes the band settled into to a groove. This record exhibits all he magic that made the Pumpkins one of the alternative trinity (Nirvana, Pumpkins, Pearl Jam) that launched a movement in the 90’s. The songs on Oceania have the youthful energy but not the rage of earlier Pumpkins. Billy’s song writing is sublime and reflects his contemplations on the cosmos. Listen first to “Violet Rays” and then “The Celestials” to get a feel for where he is taking things. The opening lines of “The Celestials” are a message to new indie bands from one who has been there—a cautionary message that much of the business hasn’t changed, “On the day that you were born, they built an empire off a scream. I can’t explain. Endlessly they’ll set you free, give you reason to believe this empty place.” The pleading lines from “Violet Rays” are convincing and reach me at a visceral level, “Babe, don’t leave me. Please believe me—I’m so easy to know.” 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Desert Island Discs - Part 2

Here is the second part of my list of greatest CDs of all time.  Ones I couldn't do without on some sort of an isolated tropical island.  No particular order and not including any "Greatest Hits" packages, yet.  Also, only including one work of art from any particular band....


The Clash - Combat Rock

For sure, London Calling is probably their greatest overall album.  I absolutely love it also (as well as Sandinista).  It's just that Combat Rock was issued at the tail end of my High School time and it brings back such incredible memories.  "Rock the Casbah" and "Should I Stay or Should I Go" are great tunes but they are actually not the reason I would pick Combat Rock. It's the other songs that capture me.  This was the tail end of the Clash as we know it.  It was also when they were becoming one of the most popular bands, ever.  Joe Strummer is probably my favorite front man.  Political.  Smart.  Willing to take risks.

The Clash transcended punk by fusing reggae and world music with the natural angst of their roots.  It was melodic music with an edge. They raised awareness and they didn't apologize.  One of my favorite all time bands.

This was the soundtrack to my Junior/Senior year Summer in AZ.  Timeless.

The Police - Synchronicity

The Police are one of my favorite bands.  I never saw them in concert and I really regret it.  I own all of their music - Zenyatta Mondatta is also very good, as is Ghost in the Machine.  Synchronicity, though, was their apex.  They were hitting on all cylinders when they made this, their last CD together.  It would have won Album of the Year if not for another very important CD that year - Thriller, by Michael Jackson.

Interestingly, this was one of my CDs that I played so much I couldn't listen to it for years afterward.  Funny how that is.  "King of Pain" is my favorite.  We always tried to get the Church Dance DJ's to play it but they never would - they said no one would dance to it.  They would, however, play it at the end of the dance as the lights came on and everyone left for home!

"Every Breath You Take, " "Wrapped Around My Finger," and the title track (I not II) are also very good.  Reminds me of a trip we took to Balboa Beach, California one Summer in High School.  Great memories and great music.

Radiohead - In Rainbows

Eccentric.  Brilliant.  Strange.  Cutting edge.  There are many acronyms people use to describe Radiohead's music.  They are unique and defy clear categorization.  Head music - makes you think.  In truth, I can't listen to Radiohead all the time.  They are a band I have to be 'in the mood for' but even that is hard to describe.  Winter in Calgary comes to mind but that is as good as I can describe it.

In Rainbows is incredible.  If I listen to a single album by Radiohead, it is this one.  Cover to cover this is great music.  It has great beats.  Slow.  Fast.  Key changes.  I purchased the video versions in iTunes also.  The musicianship is incredible (Dave Higham would be proud) and you can see that the live versions are as good as what they put out on CD.  "15 Step," "Bodysnatchers," "All I Need," "Reckoner," "Jigsaw Falling into Place" are outstanding.  Listen to the whole thing and you will be taken to another world.

The Killers - Day & Age

It's no secret the Killers are one of my favorite bands.  Interestingly, I didn't like them in the beginning.  They were, for me at least, a sweet acquired taste.  Another interesting fact is their debut album (the one most popular on iTunes) is also my least favorite Killers CD.  I love Sam's Town.  I love Sawdust.  I love Battle Born.  But my favorite has to be Day & Age.

It has a lot of pop sensibility with great songs, great lyrics and great performances.  It is slick.  It is commercially savvy and I don't care.  The videos are good and Brandon Flowers is one heck of a front man.  "Human." "Joyride," "Dustland Fairytale," and "This is Your Life" are my favorites.  It is really a complete album, though, as all the songs are very good.  "A Crippling Blow" was a B-Side that isn't included on all the versions - still a very good song.  I recommend it.



Saturday, December 15, 2012

Desert Island Discs - Part 1

A good friend of mine, John Durant, has recently undergone a surgical procedure.  I was thinking about him over the past few weeks as he begins recovery (safe and painless, hopefully).  He is a huge music buff - we share that in common.  We have similar tastes, in most cases.  In honor of him, I wanted to put together a 'Desert Island Disc' list with brief explanations.  It has nothing to do with triathlons, running, biking, etc. but after all it is the down season -haha.

These is essential music, in my opinion, in no particular order.  These are CD's that have change me life for the better.  They make me happy in the sense that they bring back memories, evoke emotions or just make me rock out.  Each has a unique purpose and and I love them...


U2 - Achtung Baby

This is a hard one.  U2 has produced some of the best music of all time, in my opinion.  I have friends that think otherwise (Dave Higham) but I think they are delusional.  I could have easily picked the Unforgettable Fire or Joshua Tree.  How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb is also very good.  But Achtung Baby is a complete masterpiece from beginning to end.  I understand U2 was going through some internal issues at the time - fortunately for us that translated into some great music.  The early 90's were a great time for me, personally.  Newly married, full of promise and a great future.  I was knee deep into ASU and getting my B.S. when this came out.  It reminds me of that huge milestone for me.  This CD captures and brings back great memories.  Best tracks are.... All of THEM.

Depeche Mode - Violator

Ahhhh  Depeche Mode.  This is a group I have listened to for years.  Definitely not 'happy' music in the traditional sense and Violator is no exception.  I am a big fan of GOOD electronic music and these guys are the cornerstone of that type of music.  Cutting, brutal hooks and topics.  Violator is darker than some of their earlier music but songs like "Halo," "Policy of Truth" and "Enjoy the Silence" are some of my all time faves.  This CD is always on my playlist during the Fall - October. It is that kind of music and it reminds me of working for the Bank, early in my career, and again, going to ASU to get my degree.  Happy but hard times.  Violator provided a cool soundtrack for the Halloween season - one you can dance to.  For a good Mormon boy this was about is edgy as I got!

New Order - Substance

I am a HUGE New Order fan.  Lighter than Depeche Mode but still in the same vein.  I can listen to New Order anytime of the year.  Their music is timeless.  It has a great beat, it is unique.  You can listen to many songs on the radio and hear New Order influences.  New Order was an evolution from Joy Division and unlike some of my friends, I have never been a big fan of Joy Division.  Believe me, I have tried.  Just too dark and not enough pop to it.  Peter Hook and Bernard Sunmer are geniuses but more so in New Order.

Substance is a compilation double disc with some new tracks.  "Blue Monday," "True Faith," "Procession," "Perfect Kiss," "Bizarre Love Triangle," and "Thieves Like Us" are masterpieces.  This brings back memories of right after my mission to Brazil and coming back to Phoenix.  Going to Church dances at ASU.  Jamming to this in my car driving around Tempe.  I LOVE this band and I love this CD.

The Jayhawks - Tomorrow the Green Grass

In 1994 while living in my new home, Minneapolis (we had moved there following graduate school), I would go to the Best Buy listening stations to listen to music (remember those?).  I had never heard of this local band but as I listened to this CD.  I am so grateful.  I have been a huge fan ever since.  The Jayhawks are "alt country" with an incredible sense of harmony and great musicianship.  Over the years I have purchased all of their music - it is that good.  Picking a single CD was hard but given this was my introduction it gets the nod.

This is Summer Music and it reminds me of the great Summers in Minnesota.  You are so sick of the Winter that even the humidity and mosquitoes are easy to forget!  I remember the green, the lakes and the peace there.  Sipping on God's Nectar - Diet Mountain Dew - all while listening to the Jayhawks.

While in Minneapolis, I never got to see the band live.  The classic lineup broke up and moved in different directions.  Last year they got back together, made a new CD and toured.

They played a show at the Minnesota State Fair this Summer and I went!  It was a dream come true.  Most of you will not have heard of the Jayhawks - I invite you to take a listen and start with this CD


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Unconventional Christmas

I am a classical Christmas music guy.  The standards and older songs with some great Christmas Jazz included (maybe for a later post I will expound on my favorite Chrismas Music...).

Every year, though, I try to find something unique that can be a new standard and I buy it from iTunes.  Here's a different kind of Christmas song.  Love the melody and love the music.  Hope you like it....


Sunday, December 2, 2012

More Cool Pics from IMAZ

Just saw these professional pics from IMAZ on the Ironman Website...  Very cool.