Week In Review (2/13/15)

A non-sarcastic congratulations to Beck, St. Vincent, and everyone else on their Grammy wins!

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It’s easy to get cynical about the Grammys (I know I usually am), but it’s still an achievement to be proud of. See all the winners here.

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Speaking of Grammys…

Bekyoncé everyone.

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If you like the video below, make sure to check out the new Father John Misty album that came out this week.

If you don’t like the video below, you should still check out the new Father John Misty album that came out this week.

But if you want my opinion, you should check out the new Father John Misty album.

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The new Kendrick Lamar song is really really really good.

It’s powerful and very different from “i”. Hopefully “The Blacker The Berry” will actually be on the new album.

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Stonefox – “This City”

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Passion Pit is (kind of) back!

This is actually a Madeon song, but it’s great hearing Michael Angelakos’s voice. This sounds more Daft Punk than Passion Pit now that you think of it…

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The Tallest Man on Earth is back!

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Kristian Matsson, who made one my favorite albums of this decade so far, will return in 2015 with Dark Bird Is Home. The new album comes out May 12th via Dead Oceans.

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Gaston Light – “Wake Up And Fight”

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Susanne Sundfør – “Fade Away”

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Kitty, Daisy & Lewis – “No Action”

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Dead Sara – “Mona Lisa”

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Lucie Silvas – “How To Loose It All”

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It’s good to have you back Hot Chip!

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Bruce Springsteen is on the Fifty Shades Of Grey soundtrack???

Just kidding, it’s AWOLNATION covering “I’m On Fire”

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All We Are – “Feel Safe”

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Remember that one fake song from Adam Sandler’s The Wedding Singer? LVL UP turned it into an actual song (and it’s great)

For reference, check out the original movie version here.

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 Bobby Nourmand – “The Sound”

A brilliant remix of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound Of Silence”

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No Vacation – “Beach Bummer”

Is Beach-Emo-Pop now a thing???

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Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber

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Headphone Nation’s Year In Review: 2014

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What better way to end 2014 than to give out some superlatives? As with any sort of end-of-year review, these awards reflect my personal taste and shouldn’t be taken as the final say on the year. Really my hope is that you’ll check out some new music that that you’d otherwise miss.

Also, make sure to click on the album cover for a link to a song off that album.

Alright, let’s begin.

 

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber

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Four Things I Didn’t Expect To Happen In 2014 (From Someone Who Missed It All)

Five months is a long time to be away. Without a working cellphone or laptop, I was blissfully out of touch with the world of music save the few english music magazines I managed to find. Our reliance on the Internet for most of our news is bittersweet; it’s bitter because it feels like at times you either have too much information or none of it at all, but it’s sweet because I can google all the news and music that I missed.

Last year was great for music because it seemed that every popular artist in the world decided to release music all at once (My Bloody Valentine released an album for goodness sakes). Most albums in 2013 were a lot of fun to talk about (how many arguments have you heard or partaken in for or against Yeezus?), but a lot of those albums I rarely go back to and listen for pure enjoyment.

It seems that, for me at least, 2014 has been more about quality than quantity. The War On Drugs made their best album, The Hold Steady are still alive, a few of my other favorites released music (Sharon Van Etten, Cloud Nothings, Beck, The Men) and I’ve become acquainted with Real Estate, Parquet Courts, How To Dress Well, St. Vincent, and other musicians I knew about before but whom all have converted me into true fans this year. This year has been the year of rookies, redemptions, and breakthroughs, and I think this year, more than other years, we’ve all discovered a few new favorite bands.

Of course this could also mean that 2014 is, if nothing else, just more in tune with my personal taste, the taste of a 21-year-old Midwest music lover who has to rely on the Internet for most of his music. The following are just a few particular things that I’ve noticed about the music that I missed in 2014. Many of these things won’t seem like a big deal to you. Maybe because you’ve seen this year slowly unfold and none of this seems sudden, or maybe you just disagree with me. But it’s fun to write about the halfway point of 2014 with a different perspective. Plus, I need to do a “halfway through 2014” post anyways, so here we go!

 

1. Guitar Rock Music Is Alive And Well

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Just to clarify — great guitar music, in all of its wonderful and diverse forms, has never died. There will always be great music made with Fender guitars plugged into Marshall amps with the occasional tremolo and delay pedals. But in 2014, more than most recent years, it seems that guitar music is not only getting by but actually thriving among popular music.

Whether it’s 90’s nostalgia (Cloud Nothings), Alex Chilton approved classic rock (The Men), Paul Westerberg approved melodic punk (Against Me!), 70’s New York City cool punk (Parquet Courts and Thee Oh Sees), or metal that Foo Fighters fans would like (Mastodon), every type of guitar player had an album to like in 2014.

 

And I don’t know if I can categorize the excellent new The War On Drugs album Lost In The Dream. The band’s previous album, the also excellent Slave Ambient, was a unique marriage of Tom Petty Americana with hints of dreamy guitars that aren’t quite shoegazing but just as pretty, and Lost In The Dream is just an overall improvement of that sound.

 

As of now, my favorite album of 2014 is Real Estate’s Atlas. In addition to having some of the best lyrics of the year, it’s also a great guitar album in the sense that any person just learning guitar can learn all these songs fairly easily, which makes the point that you don’t have to be a virtuoso to make excellent music.

 

All of a sudden, a guitar band doesn’t feel retro, and that’s a wonderful thing.

Also, because I love The Hold Steady, I really think the new album got a lot of undeserved panning.  Teeth Dreams, for all its flaws, is worth another listen.

 

2. No One Seems To Like Jack White Anymore

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Speaking of guitars, I was excited to come home and check out Lazaretto, the newest album from one of rock music’s most dependable crusaders, until I began reading all the mixed reviews on the album which then led to a widespread analysis on White’s legacy (Steven Hyden’s Grantland article is especially good concerning this).

The mixed reviews, along with some interesting interviews in which White attacked The Black Keys and other nice people, made me less thrilled to call myself a Jack White fan. I’ve always liked the idea of Jack White — a musician who takes inspiration from the past and tries to make it new in a way that tributes to the old ways while moving forward. But when I went back to all my White Stripes albums, I realized that most of these albums are, well, just ok. Yes, I know Elephant is a classic album and “Seven Nation Army” is an anthem of a generation and “Ball And Biscuit” is the sound of a guitar having sex, but the rest of the album? This is one of the few times where I 100% agree with a Pitchfork review. As for White’s many side projects — The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, etc — each band has, at the very most, a handful of great songs that’ll remind you how much you miss The White Stripes.

I’ve listened to Lazaretto a couple of times and I agree with many of the reviews that I’ve read — it’s a more high-maintenance Blunderbuss with a few truly great songs hidden among mostly ok to good songs, much like every album Jack White has made after White Blood Cells.

But with all that said, Jack White is still, and will probably always be, the go to guitar champion for much of our generation. I still say that I’m a fan (De Stijl and White Blood Cells still sound great). Plus, in the end, White might have the last laugh.

 

3. 2014 Pop Music — The Ultimate Hangover Year

2013 was one of the greatest years for music in terms of how many popular and established bands released new music. 2014 didn’t have a chance from the start, and halfway through the year that still stands to be true.

The only major bands I know that everyone knows and loves (or at lest loves to hate) that released music this year was Coldplay and The Black Keys, and those albums are less than stellar. Lana Del Rey and Jack White are also more established names in popular music (for very different reasons), but I wouldn’t consider them in the realm of David Bowie, Justin Timberlake, and Kanye West popular, all of whom released new music last year. EDM and electronic pop still seems to be the dominate genre of throwaway hits on the radio, but it feels like the genre is losing momentum, especially after this and this.

There’s still plenty of time for pop music to figure something out, but until then it seems that the only man putting pop music on his back is…

 

4. Pharrell Williams Is Still Ruling The World

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When I left the states, everyone was still listening to “Get Lucky” every single day. Now it’s “Happy”, another product from the man who pretty much had the best year in 2013. Yes, most of you passionately hate this song by now, but this was the only universal hit that I seemed to missed. Also, G I R L is not a bad album, and I say that because I assume no one else has listened to the album after hearing “Happy” so much.

 

So so far so good for 2014. With the recent news of a new Ryan Adams album later this year, I’m already giddy to think of what my end-of-year best lists will consist of. Below you’ll find a Spotify playlist of my favorite songs of 2014 so far. I’m sure I’ve missed a lot more great music in 2014, so let me know if there’s anything else I need to hear!

 

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber

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Music Journal: March Recap – SXSW, The Boss Returns, And A Whole Lotta March Madness

It’s called March Madness for a reason.  Though my Hoosiers lost in the Sweet Sixteen to Kentucky, we have to remember the first time we played Kentucky this year (see picture above).  This has been an incredible basketball season, not only for IU but also for all the crazy games this year during the tournament.  I’m excited for what March will bring next year.

Oh yeah, in March some music was released and there was some festival that happened.

 

South By Southwest: The Most Fun I Didn’t Have.

SXSW, arguable one of the coolest music festivals to happen all year, happened this month…and I didn’t go.  No worries though, I am determined to go down to Austin in the near future to see SXSW (21st birthday present?).  Besides, with all the coverage on every single music blog, I felt like I was basically there.  I especially enjoyed Spin’s SXSW playlist, which included rising acts such as Star Slinger, Class Actress, and Jacques Greene who had good sets at SXSW.

 

Album Of The Month: Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball

When I first heard Wrecking Ball I was mostly relieved that it was an improvement over Working On A Dream.  But the more I listen to this album, the more I believe that this is one of the Boss’s better albums.  It’s definitely one of his more unique sounding albums, with strong elements of hip-hop beats and Irish folk songwriting.  But there is still that signature Bruce sound that’ll make you wanna get up and dance like this…

 

Song I Listened To The Most This Month: “True Love Will Find You In The End”

This beautiful song was originally done by the late Daniel Johnston.  The two versions I listened to the most in March were the Beck and Matthew Good versions.  Both are stripped down and do great justice to Johnston’s original.  Try not to cry the first time you hear this.

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber

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Playlist: 15 Songs For March 2012 (Via Spotify)

This month’s playlist is all over the place.  Most of these songs are oldies, but there are a few new tracks here.  I have some Springsteen, Death Cab, Magnetic Fields, The Men, and everything else in between.

Here are my 15 songs for March 2012.

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber

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Rick Miller – Twenty-Five Ways To Sing “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Here is comedian/musician Rick Miller singing Queen’s classic “Bohemian Rhapsody” with twenty-five spot on impressions of twenty-five very distinct (a nice way of saying annoying) voices of rock & roll.  Some of the impressions he does include Bob Dylan, Jon Bon Jovi, Barney (yes, the dinosaur), Tom Petty, Ozzy Osbourne, and Axel Rose.  Miller is talented, hilarious, and he kind of looks like Prince, so I’m counting that as his twenty-sixth impression.

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber

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