Sunshine Soldier…

Andy Grammer.

Remember when I had about seventy-five embarrassing posts in a row babbling incessantly about this guy?

Yeah.

He still holds a prominent place in my music-obsessed heart.

When we saw him live last year, he played a new song called The Good Parts. It was just him and his piano and it was magic.

 

 

I’ll admit it. I cried the first time I listened to this thing. (Nevermind I cry at E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.)

Going into a new album by my obsessions favorites always comes with a weird anxiety and apprehension. What is it going to sound like? Is it going to live up to my ridiculous standards? Am I going to be cursing Basil for pulling some half-baked story idea out of a random lyric? How many replays is it going to take for it to feel like part of the family?

This is my brain and welcome to it.

AG is probably the only person who can pull off a song called Grown Ass Man Child. And I didn’t think it was possible for him to get more adorable, but then he became a dad and Spaceship is peak precious. I sit here looking at the track list, thinking I could probably imagine every single one of these songs live and OOF. (Now if only that March tour date was at a venue with some damn reserved seating.)

The whole album end to end is unabashedly Andy. He is a bright spot in this chaotic disaster of a world.

I think we could all use a little more of that.

 


(Give Love [live] by Andy Grammer)

Lean in for a sweet ride…

I have eight-thousand-some-odd tracks in my iTunes library. And I have a few hundred CDs that have never been ripped to digital form. (When I condensed all of our physical media into a smaller space, I realized just how many albums I have that are not on my computer. It would take days to rip all of them.) And I’m always on the prowl for more.

Never.

Enough.

Music.

Even so, I have a habit of listening to the same handful of artists over and over again. It’s kind of ridiculous.

And by “kind of” I mean EXTREMELY.

When I actually venture outside of my ad nauseam collection I often find myself wondering why I don’t listen to a given artist more often. There are some that just sound so damn good, but I keep falling back into the old familiar.

Nine Days is one of those bands. They’ve been on my radar since they hit with Absolutely (Story of a Girl) way back in 2000. It took me until I was up to my eyeballs in iTunes to finally add them to my library, and eventually add in the rest of their catalog. They put out a crowd-funded album in 2013 and they’ve been lingering on the outskirts of my music consciousness ever since.

They just put out a new album last week. Complete with a Sweet Sixteen version of Absolutely. And as I listen to it over and over again, I find myself wondering why don’t I listen to these guys more often?

They are So. Damn. Good.

While their last album had a little more country twang to it, this one returns to the more alternative sound of previous ventures. There’s still a little twang here and there, but overall it’s still the Nine Days sound.

Obsolete makes me feel kind of old as it calls out outdated technology that I once made heavy use of.

Snapshots is fitting to the modern age and the always-connected aspects of life, reminding one to stop and actually experience a moment instead of just recording it for posterity.

Conspiracy probably amuses me far more than it should as it mentions D.B. Cooper just as the FBI announced they’ve put the unsolved mystery to rest after four decades.

The whole album is solid start to finish. John and Brian split pretty evenly on vocals and they create some pretty fantastic sounds.

It’s damn good.

That’s really all I can say.

Something you just can’t explain…

Sister Hazel hit in 1997 with All For You. (ZOMG Jett and Ryan and their long, flowy hair.) I remember the song getting a lot of airplay, and to a lesser degree I remember Change Your Mind. But it wasn’t until they released Chasing Daylight and Your Mistake that the switch really flipped and the band officially invaded my orbit.

They’ve been a constant ever since.

(And it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t point out that they have several songs on the Ben and Marina soundtrack.)

Chasing Daylight, Lift, and Absolutely are the albums I know best, but they’ve consistently put out one solid album after another over the course of the last twenty-some years. The sound has shifted around in that time, but there is a distinct characteristic that is just very Sister Hazel.

Tuesday afternoon Lighter in the Dark landed in my mailbox. It’s their tenth studio album and thirteenth album overall. (I think…I could be mathing wrong…)

And oof.

It’s so damn good.

There’s a little more country twang to this one, but it’s still distinctly Hazel, and dear dog the sound that Ken and Drew create singing together hits all the right triggers in my music-obsessed heart. We also get to hear Jett chime in for the first time on Ten Candle Days. And Thoroughbred Heart is entirely Ryan. (I assume…he wrote the song and it’s not Ken or Drew singing.)

Right now That Kind of Beautiful is front runner for favorite track, but the whole album is fantastic start to finish.

I love this band.

So much.

That’s really all I can say.

Every song was an anthem…

I couldn’t tell you exactly when I first heard Matt Nathanson, but I know it was right around the same time I discovered Ingram Hill—somewhere in the ballpark of 2003/2004 methinks.

Beneath These Fireworks was his current album at the time and I really loved that disc, but it took a little time for the switch to flip and things to go from Hey I like this guy to ZOMG I FUCKING LOVE THIS GUY. I’m not entirely sure when that switch flipped on him, but I remember being REALLY excited when he started getting airplay on Cities 97 with Car Crash and then Come On Get Higher hit and suddenly he was known.

(Fun fact: it’s because of Come on Get Higher that Bob actually recognizes MN anytime his music is playing. Robert doesn’t often retain artist/song affiliations…unless it’s someone I beat to death listen to A LOT.)

Much like all the music I love, I couldn’t tell you what it is I love so much about this guy or his songs…

…but damn.

He is so fucking good at what he does.

He’s also snarky as all get out, bloody hilarious, the king of self-deprecation, and totally on The List.

What.

He put out a new album called Show Me Your Fangs and once again…

Hot.

Damn.

It’s only 10 songs and 35 minutes long, but that just means I get more repeat plays in, in a given time frame.

(But seriously thirty-five minutes???)

I’m partial to Headphones—even though he released that song last summer so it’s not exactly new. Giants is pretty fantastic, Playlists & Apologies is just a killer title, and there are so many awesome lines across the board. It’s a solid album start to finish.

He does not disappoint.

Now if he would just headline a show at a venue around here that’s NOT standing room only…

(Giants by Matt Nathanson)

(Headphones (acoustic) by Matt Nathanson)

Just one of them things…

A few months back Bob made the observation that I hadn’t had any new music to listen to in a long time and that it was likely a contributing factor to my general disposition and lack of creative inspiration. I conceded that he was probably right—as he usually is—and lamented the nondescript time frames of upcoming releases from some of my favorites.

And then everybody released new music at the same time.

Better Than Ezra floated on the outskirts of my music radar for a lot of years. (Good, Extra Ordinary, Desperately Wanting…) They have a handful of songs on the Drive List as they were always in heavy rotation on 105, but I never explored the rest of their music for…reasons unknown. Then Absolutely Still hit the airwaves long after Drive and caught my attention. But it wasn’t until I was building the beat to death Ben & Marina soundtrack that I suddenly felt compelled to look into more of their stuff. The one didn’t necessarily influence the other, the timing just happened that way.

Regardless.

Jackpot.

In its current state, there are four BTE songs on the Ben & Marina soundtrack. Two of which play over very significant conversations between the two. One of which involves one of my very favorite lines I’ve ever written.

Accumulating the entire BTE catalog is no cheap feat. They’ve been around for a lot of years and have a lot of damn albums. But damn. Worth it. Kevin Griffin has fantastic songwriting skills. (And fantastic blue eyes…) And even if you’re not familiar with much (or any) BTE music, you’ve probably heard at least a few KG songs. He seems to write with everybody.

The new All Together Now album does not disappoint.

And the song Gonna Get Better hits all my music-loving triggers in just the right spots.


(Better Than Ezra — Gonna Get Better)


(Better Than Ezra — Crazy Lucky)

I don’t need a reason for anything I feel…

This band.

I love them.

So.

Fucking.

Much.

We drove over nine hundred miles to see them in concert. I couldn’t muster the mental fortitude to see them locally at the State Fair on Labor Day, but Colorado, Red Rocks, (and Andy Grammer, let’s be honest) got me to drive 1800+ miles for them. The band’s performance that night mixed with the energy of a crowd of 6000-some-odd people belting out every word along with them was probably the closest thing to a religious experience I’ve ever had in my life.

You heard me.

And hey…there are two videos they put out that were filmed at Red Rocks, so technically Bob and I are in two Train videos. (And I can’t watch them without getting all weepy every gaddamn time.)

Two tiny blue Caboose-hoodied specks in a crowd of thousands on the side of a mountain.

ALLOW ME MY DELUSIONS!

It’s been two years this week since Bob and I made that road trip. And by pure coincidence, they released a new album on the same date we started our trip.

And it is awesome.

In a lot of ways it’s a departure from their previous albums, incorporating some different sounds, but on the whole, it’s still very much TRAIN. And Pat Monahan’s voice still hits me in all the right music-loving places.

I’m a little sad that Scott left the band (BLUE EYED DRUMMER!) leaving only Pat and Jimmy as the remaining members of the original five. But at least he apparently left on good terms.

There are a lot of fantastic lyrics on this album, but right now I’m partial to the title track Bulletproof Picasso and the line “I don’t need a reason for anything I feel…

That pretty much sums up my obsession/fixation/adoration/unadulterated love of music.

And this band.


(Train … Bulletproof Picasso)


(Train … Angel in Blue Jeans)

The compass of my heart…

So…

This dropped.

It’s that guy again.

In my head the color scheme of the album cover is totally a reference to Red Vs Blue.

Because that’s how my brain works—mashing together all my unhealthy obsessions fixations into one all-inclusive fandom.

I always have these extensive essays built up in my head when it comes to writing about music (new or otherwise), but when I sit down to put it on paper screen, the words fail.

Par for the course.

I love this guy.

He’s the most played artist in my iTunes library.

He’s the reason we drove over 1,800 miles round-trip to see a concert in another state. (I mean it was TRAIN so it was practically a no-brainer anyway, but the combination of the two pushed me off the cliff.)

He’s freaking adorable and shamelessly dorky. He’s a talented songwriter and musician. He’s a fantastic performer. And he really loves his fans.

My deep-rooted emotional attachment to music is particularly strong with this one.

He’s also going on tour with O.A.R. this fall and—surprise, surprise—they are NOT playing anywhere near here. (Alas there will be no road-tripping. Although if AG were playing the OAR Red Rocks show, I would probably be desperate enough to WALK to Colorado.) Also I’d be willing to bet cash money if they were going to play here, it would be at the Myth or some equally horseshit choice of venue with general-admission-standing-room-only. Because THAT’S WHERE THEY ALWAYS PLAY HERE. Life is hard, yo.

Time to add another 7,000 plays to last.fm.

What?

You think I’m kidding?

Listen line by line…

This band, man.

I fucking love them.

*AHEM*

My introduction to O.A.R. was Hey Girl in heavy rotation on Drive 105. (Oh how I miss non-shitty radio stations.) Somewhere along the line Love and Memories was added to the mix, but I don’t recall really looking into more of their music until Shattered (Turn the Car Around) hit radio. (After Drive went the way of every other station on the 105 frequency.) All Sides was the first full album I actually bought and it has gotten a lot of play in the last six years. Also the subsequent albums King, The Rockville LP, and Live on Red Rocks, and the predecessor Stories of a Stranger.

I’ve been fully intending to fill in the rest of their library, but they have about seventy-five albums (give or take—they’ve been around awhile). If I bought up everything iTunes has that I don’t, it would run me a whole lot of money in one shot. I’ll have to work on that investment slowly, I guess. And in the meantime, beat to death absorb the music I do have.

They also have that annoying ability to make me actually like songs I can’t stand by the original artist.

Even the most covered song of the last decade.

They’re on my list of desperately-want-to-see-live. Granted they ever play a non general-admission-standing-room-only venue when they come to town. (Seriously, who picks the venues for artists to play? We need to have words.)

They play Red Rocks practically every tour (or so it seems). If we ever get back there for another concert, this band is high on the list that might get us there.

You bet your ass I have the Live on Red Rocks DVD.

I love the camera on Chris’ drum kit. Every time it switches to that view it looks like it’s just going to go flying.

Also Jerry has impressive lung power with that saxophone. Not to mention at that altitude—6000-some-odd feet above sea level is no joke and not for weak lungs.

I would totally make out with Marc Roberge.

Or the blue-eyed drummer.

Or any of them, really.

What?

We don’t need another life…

At the beginning of the year, Nine Days randomly followed me on Twitter announcing their comeback.

(And I reminisced the adorableness of John Hampson.)

Some time later they launched a Pledge Music campaign (Kickstarter for music) to fund and support their new album.

(Let’s not get into the ridiculous number of music projects I’ve pledged money to in the last six months. So many music makers I love are on this path and…GAH…I am weak. WEAK!)

(Anyway.)

The new album comes out this month. The digital download was just made available this week to pledgers. I have more new music in my ear holes.

As much as I love music, I will be the first to admit I don’t know jack about it. I just know what I like. Don’t ask me to explain WHY I like it.

I just do.

And that should be sufficient enough of an explanation.

The new Nine Days album Something Out of Nothing

If you’re familiar with more than the two popular songs they had on the radio 10-ish years ago, the new music is recognizable as Nine Days. It’s a hodgepodge of rock, pop, and alternative and this new stuff has some country-ish twang to it too. And there’s no unnecessary bullshit rap interludes by “special guests.”

It’s right up my alley.


(Protect Me From What I Want … Nine Days)

Through a string of stars…

Toad the Wet Sprocket is releasing their first album in…sixteen? seventeen? years.

I got in on their Kickstarter campaign (which funded damn fast and over 5x their goal)…whenever it was on…and I’ve been listening to the new album New Constellation (plus the bonus EPs they released to pledgers) quite a bit.

It’s very much Toad. And it’s a refreshing change of pace from the shit on the airwaves these days.

Remember 90’s alternative music?

That was good music.

And Glen Phillips is still just so damn adorable.