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Timmy T’s Top 10 of 2017

3 Feb

Better late than never, our resident critic serves up his usual brilliant top 10 list, with plenty of extras for y’all!

 

 

Top 10 Albums

Ke$ha – Rainbow

Best Song: “Bastards”

  • From the get-go, you’re asking yourself, “Is this Ke$ha”? And, then you go, “This is freaking really good.” It’s crazy the range she delivers on this and the versatility. An album I think I will like for many years to come. Also, her use of the Dap Kings’ horns on the “Woman” track is a nod to another great artist (also on this list), and just shows she’s delivered a huge payload by going outside of her (probable) comfort zone. Well done, Ke$ha. Well done, indeed.

The Killers – Wonderful Wonderful

Best Song: “Rut”

  • Man, oh man. When The Killers are ready to do something cerebrally cutting edge, you get some wildly different stuff. Good thing for them, it’s pretty darn great.

Ryan Adams – Prisoner

Best Song: “Shiver and Shake”

  • Okay, so I admit, he makes a lot of my lists. But, when you do great stuff, you have some great stuff. The guy can write as many great songs as if he’s producing Halloween (pun partially intended, for those who know his catalog ;)) candy in a candy factory.

The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

Best Song: “Pain”

  • Have to allow iTunes’ description of the album to stand here, which refers to War on Drugs as a combo reproduction of Dylan, Springsteen and Petty. After losing Petty, it’s pretty tough to avoid allowing this album to take a hold of you. It’s some trippy and psychedelic stuff in a rock n’ roll throwback kind of way.

HAIM – Something To Tell You

Best Song: “Want You Back”

  • Wilson Phillips. Reincarnated. And more than two songs that are good.

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – Soul of a Woman

Best Song: “Come and Be a Winner”

  • They keep getting better, and better, and better. Every time I’m listening to them, I feel like I’m caught in a time warp with the best Motown musicians there ever were. But, their albums were produced like, yesterday!

Randy Newman – Dark Matter

Best Song: “Brothers”

  • If the soundtrack to Toy Story went a little darker, you’d get this. So, it’s a bit of a disconnect from both what and how you may be used to hearing Randy Newman sing, but he really delivers. It’s easy listening with some heavy topics.

Jack Johnson – All the Light Above It Too

Best Song: “My Mind Is For Sale”

  • So far, not one bad album. And counting. Formulaic? Perhaps. But when you’re the new and improved James Taylor, why try anything different? One of the few cases in music where I would recommend, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” So many artists try to do something different, and the next best thing they’ve ever done. And, they don’t. So, we’ve got Jack being Jack here, and it’s just all kinds of fine with me.

Queens of the Stone Age – Villains

Best Song: Fortress

  • Geez! Pretty blown away by this album. It would not be for everyone, and it even pushes me outside of my easy listening comfort zone quite a bit, but it’s heavy on a new kind of rock, that I think will preserve the possibility that rock n’ roll is here to stay, and will eventually, be back someday in a big, big way!

Diana Krall – Turn Up the Quiet

Best Song:  “I’m Confessin’ (That I Love You)”

  • A truly great Canadian jazz treasure. There’s hardly ever an album I don’t like. And, this is just another one of those you can play from start-to-finish when you need to tune out, but turn up and relax.

Best Songs Not in the Top 10 Albums:

U2 – “Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way

  • Can’t say a lot of great things about the album, but a great song is a great song, album aside.

U2 – “You’re the Best Thing About Me” (Acoustic Version)

  • Very important you get the acoustic version. I accidentally purchased this first, before the album and thought, “I should have gotten the deluxe version; it’s probably on it.” Then, I realized, U2 isn’t smart enough these days to put the better version of this track on its album, even as a bonus track, and even if it could have elevated the album. That’s just the way they are these days.

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – “If We Were Vampires

  • An excellent melancholy track.

Chris Stapleton – “Second One to Know

  • Wow! Great alt-country-rock tune! Kid Rock is jealous and Ryan Adams is trying to remake it into something depressing. Just kidding (maybe?).

Jens Lekman – “What’s That Perfume That You Wear?

  • Just a fun steel drummin’ kind of time!

Lorde – “Green Light

  • A great track, a great album. She’s got infinite potential & just starting out! Had to acknowledge it somehow!

Foo Fighters – “Happy Ever After (Zero Hour)

  • I always prefer the Foo on the quieter & more contemplative side, which is hard to come by on most albums.

Kid Rock – “Raining Whiskey

  • The Kid at his alt-country-rockin’ best!

Chris Stapleton – “Without Your Love

  • Total opposite sound from “Second One to Know”. A Garth Brooks “Thunder Rolls” type of feel.

Arcade Fire – “Creature Comfort

  • Not sure if I like the lyrics more or the rhythm more, but it all works in a weird sort of sounding way. Didn’t like the album, but love this track.

Honourable Mention (Album & Song):

Kelela – Take Me Apart

Best Song: “LMK”

  • A guilty R&B-poppy pleasure. What else can I say? Will give Beyonce and Rhianna a run for their money pretty right quick.
That’s all folks! Thanks for listening!

 

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The Unsung: Latest and Greatest

26 Jan

Hey Unsungers (yes, congratulations, you are now a noun, a Collective, a Hive, a Movement, a Way of Life):

Long time no speak. I’ve been busy just like i’m sure you have been. Life moves like a jet these days, past your field of view and gone. I’m now a father and enjoying everything that comes with it. In those fleeting moments, when i get a chance to think about music, i think about songs that evoke memories of youth, when life was free and easy.  Or I think about what songs my son should hear in his early days (admittedly this is an overthink, but if all the good willing western parents of the world can arrange for their newborns to fill their bellys with organic sugar free purees, shouldn’t they conspire to have the best of music for their souls? More on that in another post). Songs are always gateways to feelings for me – the happy, the sad, the nostalgic, the introspective. More than ever, i seek out songs to take me to a certain place when i have a minute to escape.

So we keep on moving forward. There are still soundtracks to our lives, songs that still grab hold. Here are my favorites at the moment and a few thoughts, all captured in a Latest and Greatest© playlist on spotify 

Michael Kiwanuka “Love and Hate” and “May This Be Love” The more I listen to Michael, the more i believe he is the true talent of our age. His album is so….deep. Get into him, please. 

Bahamas “Way With Words” A way with words is so important. A welcome return to the chillest man in rock. 

House of Pain “Top O’ the Morning to Ya” Retro throwback. My cousin Konrad and i use to roll around the mean streets of Calgary listening to white boy rap on our way to the courts to hoop it up. Yeah it doesn’t work with the rest of this playlist but…..Go Celtics.

The Vaccines “I Can’t Quit” I loved the first Vaccines album, ‘What Did You Expect From the Vaccines’. It was the perfect mix of the Strokes, stories about models, British classicism, and west coast cool. They have largely sucked since then, but this song seems like a return to form…

Ryan Adams “Where Will You Run” – A b-side to the excellent Prisoner. Here at Unsung, we’ve been long time fans of Ryan and he can do no wrong. Especially when he is doing his best Nirvana meets 80s power pop. When he starts yelping at 2:12, i believe in rock again.

Greta Van Fleet – “Black Smoke Rising” and “Highway Tune” shameless Led Zep guitar noodling and aping? Robert Plant howling? An album cover with allusions to mythical dark forest fires that summon the fellowship in your soul? Check, check and Triple Check. Should you care when it’s such a good rip-off? No. Let’s hope they don’t meet the same fate as Wolfmother.

The Sheepdogs “Nobody” The current Flagbearers of Canadian Classic Rock. Long live our shaggy friends. New album out now….this is an album track which i can picture drinking patio pilsners to. 

“Stardust” by Willie Nelson and Harry Connick, Jr. This song is my current earworm. I was a huge Harry Connick fan in the early 90s – i thought he was going to be the second coming of Frank Sinatra, with actual songwriting and instrumentation chops. Then he went and starred in a bad romcom with Sandra Bullock. But before the corruption, he recorded a cover album on his 25th birthday. Just him, a piano, a dark studio, and some of his favorite musicians. His version of Stardust, especially the piano at 3:50, haunts me. In my humble opinion, it is simply the saddest and the most soothing melody, a song about a song about love. And then we have Willie’s version, from the excellent 1978 album of the same name. It resurrected his career and offers a completely different interpretation, warm and fuzzy like only Willie can be. I mean, just check out the album backcover:

Kudos to my record store and whisky drinking sidekick Shaun for encouraging that vinyl purchase. I haven’t regretted one moment of listening to it with a bourbon in hand.

So, all in all, that’s the beauty of Stardust. An absolute classic, almost 100 years old.

The Weavers “Wimoweh” you should immediately recognize this rhythm if you are Lion King fan, a king of the Jungle, or a past guest at my wedding 🙂  The story behind this song is fascinating. This version, by Pete Seeger and the Weavers from the 50s, is considered the evolutionary bridge between the magnificent original, and the big hit The Tokens had in the 60s. (And the version my wife perfected live and in concert, in full marital bliss, in 2015)

Happy Weekend!

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/differentcloud/playlist/3EMB63YH6IS8bZLr3FR9vs