The Sway Machinery

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The idea of The Sway Machinery sounds strange: A Jewish collective based out of Brooklyn that plays Desert inspired blues-rock (think Tinariwen) with hints of Afrofunk. And it does sound strange, yet this is some of the best music I’ve heard in a long time.

Now this band has been around for a while and are already well respected in their music community, but I think more people should know about them. Also, this is probably the only time I’ll ever say that you’ll want to headbang to century-old sacred Ashkenazi Jewish melodies. But the band also writes in English and covers major pop hits in their unique way (see their cover of “Billie Jean” below). It’s important to note that many members of the band have also played along other great bands such as Antibalas, Iron and Wine, and Arcade Fire.

Their new album Purity And Danger will be released this March.

“Skin To Skin”

“Billie Jean” cover

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Every Best Selling Album In The U.S., Organized By U.S. Presidents (Because ‘Murica)

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When I watched last week’s State Of The Union address, I had two thoughts: “Hey, those are a lot of great plans that Congress won’t pass,” and “Hey, I should organize every best selling album in the U.S. by who was President was at the time, our readers would love that!”

We’re starting with Eisenhower in 1956 because that was the first year album sales were tracked in the U.S., and all this data comes from this Wikipedia page, so take it for what it’s worth.

I also had to make some adjustments to what years went to which Presidents. For example, JFK has 1961 – 1963 since he officially began his term on January 20, 1961 and was assassinated November 22, 1963, so I’m just rounding up. Also, Nixon resigned office on August 1974 in the middle of the year, but I’m giving him all of 1974 just to make things easier for myself (sorry Gerald Ford). Reminder – all these album sales only include US sales.

Here are some interesting takeaways from doing all this research:

Albums that were bestsellers in back to back years:

-My Fair Lady soundtrack (1957-58)

-West Side Story soundtrack (1962-63)

-Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1983-84)

-Adele’s 21 (2011-12)

Artist with the most bestselling albums: Elton John (1974’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, 1975’s Elton John’s Greatest Hits, and 1994’s The Lion King soundtrack)

Other artists with multiple bestselling albums:

-Whitney Houston (1986’s Whitney Houston and 1993’s The Bodyguard soundtrack)

-Mariah Carey (1991’s Mariah Carey and 2005’s The Emancipation of Mimi)

-Eminem (2002’s The Eminem Show and 2010’s Recovery)

-Taylor Swift (2009’s Fearless and 2014’s 1989)

Artist I wasn’t expecting to have a bestselling album in the U.S.: Toto (though it is the album that has “Africa”)

Artist I was expecting to have a bestselling album in the U.S. but actually didn’t: The Eagles (they’re one of the bestselling bands of all time, but they never dominated a single year)

The most ironic album-President paring: Nixon and War’s The World Is a Ghetto

Alrighty, let’s begin:

 

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Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953 – 1960)

1956: Harry Belafonte – Calypso

1957 and 1958: My Fair Lady (Broadway cast recording)

1959: Henry Mancini – Music from Peter Gunn

1960: The Sound of Music (Broadway cast recording)

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John F. Kennedy (1961 – 1963)

1961: Camelot (Broadway cast recording)

1962 and 1963: West Side Story soundtrack

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Lyndon B. Johnson (1964 – 1968)

1964: Hello, Dolly! (Broadway cast recording)

1965: Mary Poppins soundtrack

1966: Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass – Whipped Cream & Other Delights

1967: The Monkees – More of The Monkees

1968: The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced?

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Richard Nixon (1969 – 1974)

1969: Iron Butterfly – In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

1970: Simon and Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water

1971: Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack

1972: Neil Young – Harvest

1973: War – The World Is a Ghetto

1974: Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

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Gerald Ford (1975 – 1976)

1975: Elton John – Elton John’s Greatest Hits

1976: Peter Frampton – Frampton Comes Alive

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Jimmy Carter (1977 – 1980)

1977: Fleetwood Mac – Rumours

1978: Bee Gees – Saturday Night Fever soundtrack

1979: Billy Joel – 52nd Street

1980: AC/DC – Back in Black

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Ronald Reagan (1981 – 1988)

1981: REO Speedwagon – Hi Infidelity

1982: Toto – Toto IV

1983 and 1984: Michael Jackson – Thriller

1985: Bruce Springsteen – Born in the U.S.A.

1986: Whitney Houston – Whitney Houston

1987: Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet

1988: George Michael – Faith

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George H. W. Bush (1989 – 1992)

1989: Bobby Brown – Don’t Be Cruel

1990: Janet Jackson – Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814

1991: Mariah Carey – Mariah Carey

1992: Billy Ray Cyrus – Some Gave All

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Bill Clinton (1993 – 2000)

1993: Whitney Houston – The Bodyguard soundtrack

1994: Elton John – The Lion King soundtrack

1995: Hootie and the Blowfish – Cracked Rear View

1996: Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill

1997: Spice Girls – Spice

1998: James Horner and Celine Dion – Titanic soundtrack

1999: Backstreet Boys – Millennium

2000: *NSYNC – No Strings Attached

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George W. Bush (2001 – 2008)

2001: Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory

2002: Eminem – The Eminem Show

2003: 50 Cent – Get Rich or Die Tryin’

2004: Usher – Confessions

2005: Mariah Carey – The Emancipation of Mimi

2006: High School Musical soundtrack

2007: Josh Groban – Noel

2008: Lil Wayne – Tha Carter III

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Barack Obama (2009 – current)

2009: Taylor Swift – Fearless

2010: Eminem – Recovery

2011 and 2012: Adele – 21

2013: Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience

2014: Taylor Swift – 1989

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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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My 25+ Favorite Songs of 2014

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Another year, another playlist of my favorite songs of the year. This year’s playlist has a particular mix of random greatness, from gloriously loud guitar rock to jazzy electronics and everywhere in between. This year wasn’t as full of epic pop songs as last year, but there are still plenty of quality songs to hear from 2014.

Enjoy!

 

*p.s., as time goes on I’ll add other great songs from this year to this playlist that I forgot to include, twenty-five is just a good starting point.

 

 

Against Me! – “True Trans Soul Rebel”

Alvvays – “Adult Diversion”

Cloud Nothings – “I’m Not Part of Me”

Flying Lotus – “Never Catch Me (feat. Kendrick Lamar)”

Gerard Way – “No Shows”

Hamilton Leithauser – “Alexandra”

The Hold Steady – “Spinners”

Honeyblood – “Super Rat”

Lana Del Rey – “Brooklyn Baby”

Mastodon – “The Motherload”

Matt Kivel – “You and I Only”

The Men – “Another Night”

Modern Baseball – “Fine, Great”

Parquet Courts – “Sunbathing Animal”

Real Estate – “Had To Hear”

Reigning Sound – “My My”

Ryan Adams – “When The Summer Ends”

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 – “IMF”

Sharon Van Etten – “Tarifa”

Spoon – “Do You”

St. Vincent – “I Prefer Your Love”

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – “Lariat”

Strand of Oaks – “Goshen ’97”

Sun Kil Moon – “Micheline”

The War On Drugs – “Red Eyes”

AND MORE!

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Playlist: 25 Of Kanye West’s Most Recognizable Samples (via Spotify)

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As you can probably tell, I’m very excited for the new Kanye West album to come out.

As one who will admit to have not invested a large amount of time into rap and hip-hop music, my love for Kanye West has always come from his production. His ingenious sampling of classic and obscure R&B and rock tunes has won me over along with other countless rock loyalist who freaked out the first time they hearing Kanye sampling Ray Charles on “Gold Digger”.

In honor of tomorrow’s official release of Yeezus (though I’m sure you’ve already heard it by now), I present to you a Spotify playlist of Kanye’s most recognizable samples. I narrowed the list down to songs that are recognizable on their own and within the songs in which they’re sampled. I didn’t put any songs on here that I couldn’t find on Spotify, which unfortunately excluded a lot of great songs (sorry “Iron Man”).

Hear the playlist here.

And for a reference, here are the songs on the playlist divided by its album appearance from oldest to most recent.

The College Dropout (2004)

“I Just Wanna Stop” – The Jimmy Castor Bunch [“We Don’t Care”]

“Mystery Of Iniquity” – Lauryn Hill [“All Falls Down”]

“Distant Lover” – Marvin Gaye [“Spaceship”]

“Spirit In The Dark” – Aretha Franklin [“School Spirit”]

“Through The Fire” – Chaka Khan [“Through The Wire”]

“Man In The Mirror” – Michael Jackson [“Family Business”]

Late Registration (2005)

“Move On Up” – Curtis Mayfield [“Touch The Sky”]

“I Got A Woman” – Ray Charles [“Gold Digger”]

“Wildflower” – Hank Crawford [“Drive Slow”]

“Home Is Where The Hatred Is” – Gil Scott-Heron [“My Way Home”]

“Rosie” – Bill Withers [“Roses”]

“My Funny Valentine” – Etta James  [“Addiction”]

“Diamonds Are Forever” – Shirley Bassey [“Diamonds From Sierra Leone”]

“It’s Too late” – Otis Redding [“Gone”]

Graduation (2007)

“Kid Charlemagne” – Steely Dan [“Champion”]

“Harder Better Faster Stronger” – Daft Punk [“Stronger”]

“My Song” – Labi Siffre [“I Wonder”]

808s & Heartbreak (2008)

“See-Line Woman” – Nina Simone [“Bad News”]

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)

“Cinderella” – Roald Dahl [“Dark Fantasy”]

“21st Century Schizoid Man” – King Crimson [“Power”]

“She’s My Baby” – The Mojo Men [“Hell Of A Life”]

“Avril 14th” – Aphex Twin [“Blame Game”]

“Comment #1” – Gil Scott-Heron [“Lost In The World”/”Who Will Survive In America”]

Watch The Throne (2011)

“Try A Little Tenderness” – Otis Redding [“Otis”]

“The Makings Of Your” – Curtis Mayfield [“The Joy”]

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