Playlist: The 70s – Dazed And Confused

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Just like I made a playlist for the 60s, the good old 1970s gets its own spotify playlist.

I’ve tried to cover as much ground as I could – from disco (Bee Gees, ABBA), Heavy Metal (Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin), R&B, funk, and soul (Al Green, Isaac Hayes, Marvin Gaye), lo-fi and punk (Buzzcocks, The Clash, New York Dolls), soft rock (Fleetwood Mac, Elton John), singer-songwriter (Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor), to good old rock & roll (Bowie, Springsteen, Aerosmith). I also tried to throw in some deep tracks, including songs from Ann Peebles, Candi Staton, The Damned, David Essex, Dr. John, Fela Kuti, Freda Payne, Jorge Ben Jor, The Osmonds, Richard Hell, Rodriquez, The Slits, and more.

And yes, the Guardians of the Galaxy and Dazed and Confused soundtracks are on here too.

Enjoy!

 

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Week In Review (12/19/14)

So Some Guy Named D’Angelo Released An Album?

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And apparently it’s a big deal.

And The Award For The Most Hyped Producer For 2015 Goes To ZHU

And for good reason.

James Murphy Is Making An Album Made Out Of Tennis Sounds.

No, seriously.

Max Frost – “Let Me Down Easy”

So good.

 Will Nothing But Thieves Be The Next Big London Band That’ll Be Featured On Some NBC Drama Commercial?

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It sure sounds like it, and in the best way possible.

This Group Of Recent High School Graduates Makes Me Feel Real Old

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Expect great things from Minneapolis-bred Hippo Campus.

 And Your Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Class Of 2015 Is…

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Lou Reed, Green Day, Joan Jett, Bill Withers, and some other famous people. But the real story is who didn’t get inducted.

Is This The Sexist Christmas Song You’ll Hear In 2014?

Or at least the one that sounds the most like the Human League?

Watch Bob Long III Play Inside An Indianapolis Brewery

Thank you Sun King, and thank you My Old Kentucky Blog.

Can’t It Just Be Summer Already?

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I guess I’ll stay in and listen to Genevieve to feel like there’s some sun left.

Anytime An Artist Calls Themselves ‘Indiana’ I Have To Talk About Them

It’s a bonus that this artist actually sounds great.

Male Bonding – “Falling”

Be on the lookout for a new album from these guys in 2015.

Kathleen Hanna aka The Punk Singer Is Back!

This is also the same girl who introduced Kurt Cobain to Teen Spirit.

This Will Be The Last ‘Week In Review’ For The Year!

I’ll be on vacation with the family from Christmas till New Years and I will not be near any sort of Internet. See you in 2015!

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Playlist: Zach Braff’s iPod

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This new playlist combines many of the songs from the Garden State and Scrubs soundtracks in addition to some other songs that I think match Braff’s great range of taste in music. There are also some songs on here from his new movie Wish I Was Here released in limited release July 18th.

 

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End Of Year Report: 12 Different Perspectives On Music In 2013

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If you’re a fan of mainstream and indie variations of rock music i.e. Arcade Fire, Kurt Vile, Arctic Monkeys and Vampire Weekend, 2013 was a good year for you.

If you’re closer to my dad’s age and was still wishing for that new My Bloody Valentine and David Bowie album or that Replacements reunion back in January, 2013 was a good year for you.

If you’re Pharrell, 2013 was a good year for you.

If you’re Kanye West, 2013 was a good year for you.

If you’re a female pop star and your name isn’t Lady Gaga, 2013 was a good year for you.

If you’re a Lou Reed fan, 2013 was not a good year for you (though you probably went back through all your old Reed records and rediscovered your love for Transformer and “Street Hassle”, so maybe it was a good year).

If you like music, 2013 was a good year for you. 2013 was a good year for (almost) everyone, but there are several different way to look at this past year. Here are 12 of those perspectives as we celebrate the end of a historic year in music.

2013: The Year Of Lou Reed’s Passing

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One of rock music’s most influential poets and explorers passed away in 2013, and fans around the world went back to their Velvet Underground and Transformer records and mourned. It was one of those deaths that united all people to celebrated an incredible life, for Reed was one of those few musicians that nearly everyone knew, even if they didn’t know that song they really liked is called “Walk On The Wild Side” (or that it’s about cross-dressing). Even towards the end of his life, Reed never stopped exploring the possibilities of music, and we’ll miss his sense of wonder and beauty that he found in even the ugliest of places.

Check out these 10 songs that’ll introduce you to Lou Reed.

 

2013: The Year Of Impressive Women

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2013 was a quite a year for women in music. You had Miley Cyrus, Lorde, Janelle Monae, Kacey Musgraves, Beyonce, and Brandy Clark all making headlines and selling tons of records in 2013 (“tons” is adjusted to a modern time when few musicians are selling enough records to keep their jobs). We also had new music from Lady Gaga and, though Artpop wasn’t as good as we all thought it would be, it’s big news whenever a new Gaga album is released (in fact, it’s even bigger news that Artpop flopped and that the modern pop era that she helped create has moved on from her). And on the other side of the spectrum, we had Laura Marling, Haim, Savages, Sky Ferreira and more ladies making some of the best alternative music of 2013.

 

2013: The Year Of Nostalgia

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If you told me on December 31, 2012 that in the next 12 months we would have new music from My Bloody Valentine, David Bowie, Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, Dismemberment Plan, Boards of Canada and Jay Z AND that The Replacements, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Postal Service, The Breeders and *NSYNC (!) would reunite and perform, I would have told you that you were crazy. Well 2013 was a crazy year indeed.

 

2013: The Year Of The Modern Classics

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Vampire Weekend made their best album, Kanye West made his Kid A to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy‘s Ok Computer, Arcade Fire loosened up and still made an enduring rock record, Daft Punk returned with the biggest hit of their career, Arctic Monkeys became the best soul-rock band in the world, James Blake won the Mercury Prize, and we heard new music from Kurt Vile, The Strokes, The National, Kings Of Leon, Justin Timberlake, Nick Cave, Queens of the Stone Age and many more.

Yeah, 2013 was a year for modern classics.

 

2013: The Year Of The Rookie

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Back in January we didn’t know much about Haim, Palma Violets, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, CHVRCHES, Foxygen, Disclosure, Chance The Rapper, Savages, Perfect Pussy and Lorde, but now we all know who theses guys are.

 

2013: The Year Of Trying To Figure Out Spotify

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It’s hard to remember life before Spotify and before having the ability to stream nearly every song you wanted to hear anytime you had an internet connection. For music fans Spotify is a blessing, a free gateway to (almost) any song you want to stream. For artists however, it’s a completely different story.

In 2013 Spotify became one the dominant music streamers in America, and we began to understand its place within a music industry that desperately needs to adjust to how most people listen to music. Those who oppose Spotify’s model include prominent musicians such as David Byrne, Thom Yorke, Beck, and many more who claim that Spotify still hurts musicians with their money breakdown.

The above picture is from a Stereogum article discussing how Spotify works and how it makes money and pays back the artists.

Only time will tell if the Spotify model can last and, more importantly, if it can be changed to benefit the musicians, but in 2013 there was movement (good or bad) to determine a future for the music industry.

 

2013: The Year Of The Open Letter

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In the age of smartphones and social media, it’s nice to see that musicians are keeping in touch by writing letters to each other and letting us all see what they’re saying.

Sinead O’Connor Reaches Out To Miley Cyrus To Not Whore Herself Out

Sinead O’Connor Writes Another Letter To Miley After She Compares Her To Amanda Bynes

Sufjan Stevens Corrects Miley Cyrus On Her Grammer

(But then we have this awesome Miley Sinead mash-up video that makes the whole fued ironic)

Childish Gambino Writes A Letter Via Marriott Hotel Stationaries

GoldieBlox To The Beastie Boys Concerning Girls

Jay Z’s song “Open Letter” Addressed

 

2013: The Year Of The Fox

 

2013: The Year Of The Rise And Fall Of The Harlem Shake

 

2013: The Year Of Pharrell

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Here are some of the things that Pharrell accomplished in 2013:

  • He was nominated for seven grammy awards for this upcoming Grammys.
  • He created the first 24 hour music video for his song “Happy”, which you can view here.
  • He’s featured on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”, two of the biggest hits of 2013.
  • He helped produce Jay Z, Azealia Banks, 2 Chainz, Mike Posner, Nelly, Mac Miller, Mayer Hawthorne, John Legend, The Weeknd, Aloe Blacc, Miley Cyrus, Pusha T and many more.
  • He helped produce the soundtrack for Despicable Me 2 and Man Of Steel, two of the biggest summer movies of 2013.
  • He got married and celebrated his 40th birthday (serious, the dude looks 20 and he’s 40).
  • He announced his next solo record for next year which will have the help of Columbia Records, and it’ll feature “no rapping”.
  • He seems like a real chill guy.

So yeah, Pharrell won 2013.

 

2013: The Year of Creative Album Releases

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In 2013 there were many popular musicians who were either willing (or desperate) to make their album release THE event of the year, which required a lot of creativity (and money). This year was full of creative releases that built up so much hype, or in some cases there was no time for hype to build. Here are some examples:

  • In 2013 Arcade Fire became The Reflektors and released cryptic messages via chalk on walls and performed with big heads on The Colbert Report and released the album on YouTube for one day that was matched to the visuals of the movie Black Orpheus, one of the key inspirations behind Reflektor.
  • Jay Z and Kanye, both members of The Throne mind you, released major solo albums in 2013, but they both promoted their albums in the most polar opposite ways. Magna Carta Holy Grail was announced via The NBA Finals and Jay Z partnered up with Samsung to sponsor the album. Yeezus had no radio, no TV, no sponsors – only Kanye himself proclaiming he was a God on one of the most memorable SNL performances of all time. He also projected his face on the sides of buildings and premiered a softcore-porn music video on Ellen. In short, Jay Z was corporate America, and Kanye was the counterculture.
  • For their Lollapalooza set, Death Grips decided not to show up at their own show (or they never planned on showing up, we’ll never know) and then they canceled the rest of their 2013 tour. And oh yeah, they happened to release a new album (Government Plates) to a sharply divided fan base and had everyone else talking about it – it appears that from now on, whenever someone unexpectedly drops a new album, it’s called “pulling a Death Grips”.
  • Childish Gambino released a massive 72-page screenplay for this year’s Because The Internet.
  • Daft Punk unveiled Random Access Memories by premiering “Get Lucky” at Coachella which was followed by multiple billboards and SNL appearances.
  • Katy Perry promoted Prism via a gold truck.
  • Very recently, Beyonce dropped her self-titled album out of nowhere. This technique has worked with Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails and other indie artists (like I said before, Death Grips), but for a pop megastar like Beyonce to do this it was potentially revolutionary.

 

2013: The Year of Insanely Great Music

In addition to all these artists I’ve mentioned before, we also had great music from Deafheaven, Mikal Cronin, John Mayer, MGMT, Drake, Iron and Wine, Josh Ritter, Phoenix, The Thermals, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Phosphorescent and so many more. There were countless other hit songs that I didn’t include that are in my Spotify playlist of my favorite songs of 2013, and there were plenty of great records that I didn’t have room to talk about that are included in my list of my favorite albums of 2013. And of course, it was a fun year for Headphone Nation – there was never a time when there was nothing to talk about.

Here’s to a mind-blowing 2013, and here’s to what 2014 might bring us.

Happy holidays y’all.

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The Talkhouse – Where Musicians Get To Talk About Music

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One of the cooler music websites that I’ve stumbled upon recently is The Talkhouse. The Talkhouse is where musicians talk about and review new releases. The site has gotten a lot of attention recently since it was where the late Lou Reed reviewed Yeezus and it also has the hilarious Ezra Koenig review of Drake’s latest album.

The Editor-In-Chief is Michael Azerrad, who wrote the classic indie underground book Our Band Could Be Your Life, and the site is getting some great interviews lately (I especially love St. Vincent’s praise for Reflektor).

It’s great to see a site where musicians get to talk about music, because they know a thing or two about music. Make sure to follow The Talkhouse for some great reviews!

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Playlist: 20 Songs For October 2013 (Happy Halloween!)

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Happy Halloween everyone! This month’s playlist includes new music from Haim, Danny Brown, Pearl Jam, Dismemberment Plan, Fall Out Boy, and Arcade Fire. I also pay tribute to Lou Reed, and I threw in a special halloween song from Ryan Adams.

Here are my 20 songs for October 2013.

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10 Songs To Introduce You To…Lou Reed

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In the 1960s New York had two great musical poets. One saw New York as a place full of musical history and possibility, and he helped jumpstart a musical revolution. The other saw New York for what it was – a lonely city both alluring and repulsive for the same reasons. This poet would go on to start a musical revolution of his own, but it would start small and grow slowly over the years. The former was Bob Dylan, who brought poetry to popular music. The latter was Lou Reed, who made poetry cool in popular music.

It’s easy to think of Dylan as the more influential of the two, but when you look at all the music that came after the 1960s, especially glam and underground/indie rock, more bands tried to write like Reed.

For those who don’t know who Lou Reed was, he was a leader of The Velvet Underground, one of rock and roll’s seminal bands. Their debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico, is considered one of the most important albums of rock music that comes with the famous tagline that it sold very few copies but everyone who bought it started a band. After the band broke up, Reed would go on to have an eccentric solo career full of classic albums (Transformer), bad ideas (Lulu and Metal Machine Music), and hit singles (half of Transformer).

And it’s because of Reed’s influence that his death is still so shocking and sad. I wish I was talking about Reed under a different circumstance, but with Reed’s passing this weekend I wanted to reach out to all those who might not be familiar with Reed and share a few essential songs from one of rock’s greatest poets. You might be surprised by how much Reed you actually know.

1) “Femme Fatale”

The Velvet Underground’s famous first record was so successful (well, artistically at least) for two reasons: Andy Warhol’s guidance over the recordings (and him essentially paying for the entire sessions) and Nico’s strong vocals. The influence of both these artistic figures is strongest in “Femme Fatale”, a song with very direct lyrics and Nico’s disarming vocal presentation.

2) “Heroin”

The first time you hear “Heroin”, and I mean the first time you really sit down and listen to all 7 minutes and 13 seconds of it, is a special moment. The changing pace of the drums and guitar matches Reed’s pace with his singing, going from clam and collected to scared and timid then back to calm again. This is what Heroin sounds like.

3) “White Light/White Heat”

The title track off The Velvet Underground’s second album is one of the band’s few straight up rock and roll songs, but it’s one of their most enjoyable tracks. This 12 bar blues is so drenched in electric static that you can barley hear the doo-wop’s and the boogie piano.

4) “Rock & Roll”

In an opinion that is completely bias and absurd, there are about 20 or so perfect songs in rock and roll music. “Rock & Roll” is one of those songs.

5) “The Kids”

Berlin is one of Reed’s most (in)famous albums for how hard it is to enjoy if you don’t already listen to a lot of Reed. It’s a concept album about a couple that falls into the traps of prostitution, suicide, and other cheery things, and “The Kids” is specifically about the mother having her kids taken away from her.

6) “Walk On The Wild Side”

Reed’s most famous song, and the one you already know. Is there anything else to say about the most popular song about transvestite oral sex in recent memory?

7) “Coney Island Baby”

For all of Reed’s gritty and druggy storytelling, a song like “Coney Island Baby” is very disarming (Wait, Reed is just like us and wants to fit in with everyone else?). It’s also the most beautiful song he ever made. To hear Reed tell a deeply personal story about wanting to play football for a team that he admired is very different from “Heroin”, but it’s just as wonderful.

8) “Perfect Day”

Transformer is the most accessible of Reed’s solo albums (David Bowie’s help in producing surely helped) and “Perfect Day” is one of its many highlights. The song is either about enjoying a day full of life’s simple pleasures with that special someone or it’s a three-and-a-half minute metaphor for being high on drugs, so everyone wins right?

9) “Dirty Blvd.”

Similar to Dylan’s exhausting catalog of albums, most of Reed’s albums are more miss than hit, though the few albums that were good were fantastic. Reed still wrote great songs in his latter years, but they were all scattered within many forgettable albums. One of my goals with this list was to find good late-Reed songs, and “Dirty Blvd.” is an example of a still sharp Reed In his older age telling a great story while also making you dance.

10) “Street Hassle”

Lou Reed’s most ambitious song is nearly 11 minutes long and is divided into three parts. The lyrics are (I think) about a hookup between Waltzing Matilda and The Sexy Boy (Part 1), Matilda ODing and the argument of whose fault her death was (Part 2), and the bittersweet reflection of a love loss (Part 3). Most of the song is played by an orchestra and features a Bruce Springsteen monologue in the middle of the song (“Y’know tramps like us / we were born to pay”).

This all sounds strange right? It is, but what’s even more strange is how beautiful it all sounds.

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Music Journal: What I’ll Remember The Most About Music In 2011

2011 was a good year for music.  It got weird at times (LuLu anyone?), and sometimes things were just plain bad (LuLu anyone?), but in 2011 there was always something to talk about in the world of music…like Lulu.  There are a few among many moments that I’ll remember the most – the first time I saw the music video for “Yonkers”, the death of Amy Winehouse, the new Radiohead album suddenly being released and then all the extra drama over its quality, and many more.

Here’s what I’ll remember the most about music in 2o11.

2011: The Year of Adele

No one had a bigger year than Adele in 2011.  She was inescapable, and her mega hits “Rolling In The Deep” and “Someone Like You” played everywhere and at all times.  Her second album 21 is America’s best-selling album since Usher’s Confessions back from 2004, with 5.28 million copies sold and counting.  Many, including myself, got cynical about this Brit sensation and how big she got, but nobody can deny her talent.  Just listen below to her cover Bob Dylan, and realize the power that is Adele.

 

The “Yonkers” music video, and the arrival of Tyler The Creator and Odd Future.

The first time I saw this music video I didn’t know what to think, but I knew it would get big soon.  Sure enough, Tyler the Creator and the rest of his rap group Odd Future became famous, or infamous depending on the person.  If you’ve never seen this video then you’re in for a treat.

 

The End of R.E.M., The White Stripes, and LCD Soundsystem

Nothing last forever, even great bands have to end eventually.  This year, three major acts called it quits, each leaving a huge void in the music world where they made their impact.  R.E.M. basically invented what we call “Alternative” and “Indie” music (sorry for the bold claim, but it’s hard to dispute it).  The White Stripes were the leaders of the back-to-basics rock revival of the early 2000s, and Jack White is a modern-day guitar hero.  LCD Soundsystem, the creative vehicle of James Murphy, was to me the modern day David Bowie, an artist who combined various genres and creative unique music that refused to compromise commercial success for artistic value.  Each of these acts will be greatly missed.

 

Arcade Fire Wins A Grammy

Back in February Arcade Fire, the biggest band nobody knew, won the Grammy for best album for 2010’s fantastic The Suburbs. The win came as a shock, mainly because most people had never heard of this little big band from Canada.  The win was huge for the indie world, and showed that the Grammys weren’t totally out of touch with the world.  The video below is fun to watch, neither the announcers or the band could believe what had happened.  For the article I posted the day after the Grammys, click here.

 

The King of Limbs: Proof That Radiohead Can Do Anything And Still Be Loved

Radiohead have been known for pulling some big stunts, and this year’s shenanigans ranks up near the top.  Let’s backtrack to pre-King of Limbs.  Radiohead hasn’t released a proper album since 2007’s In Rainbows and have been hush-hush about their plans for an upcoming album.  Then all of a sudden, they tell the world they’ll release an album within the week!  Fans were freaking out, the Internet exploded, and both Radiohead fans and haters were curious.  This was a truly an event, and it just goes to show how popular Radiohead truly are, that they can get the world excited over an album in a time where the value of an album has gone dramatically down.

I remember counting down the days, waiting for what I was hoping to be the album of the year.  Then, in another crazy move, they released the album a day early!  I woke up to the news and within the hour I had the new Radiohead album.  I stopped everything, downloaded the album, began playing it on my iTunes, and I listened.  Thirty-seven quick minutes later the album was over, and a realization came, something I didn’t think I would ever hear myself say.

The new Radiohead album…kinda sucks.

The songs all sounded the same and I felt there was much left to be desired.  I was shocked that, after four years of nothing, this was the best the band who brought us The Bends and OK Computer could give us.  There was no way that Radiohead could have done this, that they put so much hype behind, what I truly thought at the time, a piece of crap.  I thought there had to be more, this was a cruel joke, there would be more music coming out.  More music never came out.  What followed was a huge division among fans and critics – you either loved or hated the album, no middle group.  I was apart of the latter, and I was bothered by how many people were raving about the album.

Much time has passed, and though I still don’t think it’s that great, I have come to appreciate some of The King of Limbs.  It’s art, and Radiohead have always created great art that is challenging.  I thought Kid A sucked when I first heard it, but over time it grew on me and now I love that album.  The  King of Limbs is nowhere near as good as Kid A, but it’s not a piece of crap.  Plus the album gave us my favorite music video of the year.

If anything, this event showed to me that Radiohead could do anything they want and still be loved.  Thom Yorke should released an album of him of just farting, just to see how well it does.  I’ll end this rant with a link to a Spin article released in 2009 about Radiohead.  It’s very interesting, and it might change your perspective about the band.  Read the article here.

 

Spotify: A Game Changer

Spotify finally came to the US, and it caught fire fast.  Spotify’s popularity could very well put an end to the MP3, with strictly all-digital music becoming the way of the future for music.  Good for fans, bad for the artist and labels, but it’s truly an evolution in the music industry.

 

The Death Of Amy Winehouse, And Other Great Losses

No death this year was as shocking as the death of famed British soul singer Amy Winehouse.  She died so young and unexpectedly, and her death at twenty-seven added her to the infamous twenty-seven club.  She was a true talent, a kind of artist with a voice and personality that comes only so often, and a promising career was cut tragically short.  This year we also lost Clarence Clemons, saxophone player and founding member of the E Street Band with Bruce Springsteen, famed musician-poet Gil Scott-Heron, and Steve Jobs, whose iPod technology changed how we listen to music.  All these and more talented people were taken from us in 2011, and they will be greatly missed.

 

And Of Course…Lulu

A bad idea that was even worse when realized.  Lou Reed and Metallica came together and created a piece of crap.  This album had so much buzz behind it, it was already one of the most talked about collaborations in recent time.  The backlash it has received only cements this album more into music history as the greatest WTF moment of 2011.

 

I’m sure I forgot some big events, but these are the events that defined 2011 for me.  It was a crazy year with many ups and down, but some fantastic music was released.  I’m excited to see what 2012 has in store for us.  Enjoy the rest of the holidays and have a fun and safe time bringing in the new year, and make sure to continue keeping up with Headphone Nation for all that is music.

Tune in. Tune out. Live on.

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