Favorite Sounds of the Season

Yes, my avid music blog subscribers, it’s that time once again; time to trim the tree and hang the stockings with care while listening to Yule time tidings of comfort and joy. This holiday season, three particular releases have not only caught my attention, but have found a permanent place amongst my ever-growing Christmas music collection:

1) Josh Rouse: The Holiday Sounds of Josh Rouse – Longtime favorite singer-songwriter Josh Rouse has gifted us with a full-length Christmas record that will delight the senses and warm the cockles of your holiday hearts. Rouse’s Holiday Sounds is a short, but essential set of nine new seasonal selections that are tailor made for group Christmas gatherings as well as cuddling with your significant other.

The laidback opener “Mediterranean X-Mas” is guaranteed to take away the stress of your hustling and bustling while reminding you to slow down and enjoy the reason for the season. Likewise, the luscious “New York Holiday” embraces echoes of Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack (coincidentally referenced in the closing track), while concurrently sounding fresh, familiar, and classic. Other key tracks include the forlorn, but upbeat “Heartbreak Holiday,” the picturesque “Sleigh Brother Bill” and the gorgeously referential album closer, “Christmas Songs.”

The Holiday Sounds of Josh Rouse’s first pressing includes three acoustic bonus tracks: “Up on the Housetop,” “Let It Snow” and a cover of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” all of which add the perfect touch for a holiday bonfire singalong.

And speaking of Mariah Carey…

2) Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas Deluxe Anniversary Edition – After already owning the original release, plus the red vinyl LP, I’ll admit I initially deliberated if I needed yet another version, but I ultimately took the plunge and I’m glad I did! Loaded with remixes, bonus tracks, live performances from Mariah’s 1994 John the Divine concert, plus a few newly recorded treats, this 2CD expanded edition of Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas has never sounded more joyful.

And finally,

3) Jim Reeves: Twelve Songs of Christmas – This country classic was produced by the legendary Chet Atkins, and has finally been beautifully remastered by Vic Anesini at Sony’s Battery Studios. Reeves’ Twelve Songs of Christmas is a sentimental journey back to the days of Nashville’s iconic countrypolitan sound. Also, two seasonal bonus tracks: “Snowflake” and “Scarlet Ribbons” have been added to make this the quintessential version of Jim Reeves’ beloved Christmas album.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

 

Thirty-five Years of Eurythmics’ Unnervingly Prophetic Masterpiece: ‘1984 (For the Love of Big Brother)’

In the summer of 1984, Eurythmics’ David Stewart and Annie Lennox were commissioned by Richard Branson and Virgin Records to compose a musical soundtrack for Michael Radford’s film version of George Orwell’s dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Eurythmics’ songtrack album was subsequently released one month following the film’s premiere and contained nine songs derived from the instrumental interludes Stewart and Lennox composed for the movie.

Eurythmics’ 1984 (For the Love of Big Brother) is a beloved, although often overlooked piece of work, which is considered to be the duo’s most experimental output to date. It may not have been what the film’s director commissioned, but Eurythmics’ movie songtrack was ultimately the perfect companion piece. It should be considered a crime how dreadfully overlooked and mistreated this body of work was upon its original release as well as its continued neglect. With its chilling timeliness, it’s almost hard to envisage that it was written 35 years ago. [Read Full Review]

Re-experiencing the Beatles’ U.S. Albums

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ landmark Abbey Road album, and as a way to placate my fixated anxiousness for the release of its super deluxe edition and picture disc, I’ve decided to dust off my box set of the Beatles’ U.S. albums. I’m rediscovering and revisiting each individual album in chronological sequence as I await to revel within the newly remixed Abbey Road in all its glory on the golden anniversary of the historic release date. In the meantime…

I wasn’t born when the Beatles first arrived in America, but that didn’t stop me from liberating their albums from my eldest sister and memorizing every word, harmony and riff until I could hear them in my sleep, and repeatedly dream of the Capitol Records’ label with its dome logo and colorband ring spinning in my head. However, I’ll shamefacedly admit that during my early adulthood I thought I’d outgrown the mop topped Fab Four and briefly pushed them aside as I sought to forge my own musical identity. But an eager audiophile soon set me back onto the right track. With the Beatles’ 13-disc box set The U.S. Albums, I’m able to habitually seize the opportunity to turn back time and experience a taste of Beatlemania for myself.

The U.S. albums (notorious for their equalized echo chamber sound, or duophonic simulated stereo, and arbitrarily sequenced track lists), reportedly annoyed the band members, which is believed to be the inspiration behind the infamous “Butcher’s Block” cover (featuring the band holding disjointed baby dolls and raw meat while sporting white lab coats) for the U.S. only release Yesterday and Today. However, these are not the versions included here, but instead merely duplicated track sequencing sourced from an amalgamation of the original 1960s masters and the 2009 remasters. This box set, alongside the deluxe remixed editions of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles, and the anniversary remix edition of Abbey Road, are requisite additions to any Beatles completist’s collection. [Read full feature]

10 Songs I Never Want to Hear Again

The following list of songs represents what I consider to be prime examples of the antithesis of a timeless classic. I don’t intentionally mean to disparage any of these artists or their work, these are merely my honest knee-jerk reactions triggered whenever I hear these particular songs. Music is very subjective, therefore; I realize these are only my opinions, which should be taken with a grain of salt and are not any more or less valid than anyone else’s. I’ve compiled this list primarily for my own entertainment and amusement.

The artists included on the list are some of my favorites as well as some which are not, but I’ll leave that for you decipher which ones are which.

10) Peter Cetera: “Glory of Love”

  9) All-4-One: “I Swear”

  8) Toni Braxton: “Un-break My Heart”

  7) Anita Baker: “Sweet Love”

  6) Madonna: “Material Girl”

  5) Lee Greenwood: “God Bless the USA”

  4) Whitney Houston: “The Greatest Love of All”

  3) Bob Carlisle: “Butterfly Kisses”

  2) Taylor Swift “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”

  1) Matthew Wilder: “Break My Stride”

To read my explanations why I chose each selection on my list, please click here

‘Definitely Maybe’: Reliving Oasis’ Landmark Debut Album 25 Years On

As I live and breathe, has it really been 25 years since Oasis unleashed the classic Definitely Maybe?!

I can still remember the first time I heard “Live Forever” late one night as the music video unexpectedly burst onto my television screen. My reaction was strong and immediate. Little did I know that I had just witnessed the new rebirth of Britpop, nor did it prepare me for the Gallagher brothers’ infamous sibling rivalry sideshow that still continues today.

Liam and Noel Gallagher led Oasis to the top of the charts with amped up guitar riffs and irresistible hooks. Oasis’ debut album was armed with a stack of heavy hitting anthems including: “Supersonic,” “Shakermaker,” “Cigarettes & Alcohol,” “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star,” plus the now legendary “Live Forever,” all of which helped Oasis become ‘The Greatest Band on Earth’ in the mid-1990s.

Now, 25 years to the day of its original release, people most definitely look back upon Oasis’ seminal debut with high regards. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Definitely Maybe has been released as a commemorative picture disc and limited-edition silver colored double LP. Definitely Maybe will surely live on forever as new generations will indubitably look back in wonder at the legendary legacy Oasis left behind. There’s no maybe about it.

Track list:

A1. Rock ‘n’ Roll Star

A2. Shakermaker

A3. Live Forever

B1. Up in The Sky

B2. Columbia

B3. Sad Song

C1. Supersonic

C2. Bring It on Down

C3. Cigarettes & Alcohol

D1. Digsy’s Dinner

D2. Slide Away

D3. Married with Children

Relive the Magical Vinyl Experience of Donna Summer’s ‘Bad Girls’ All Over Again

Donna Summer ‘Bad Girls’ 40th Anniversary Vinyl Edition

Back in the summer of 1979, Donna Summer reached the peak of her zenith with her double album, Bad Girls. Considered her career milestone, the masterfully crafted double platter dominated radio airwaves, filled night club dance floors and livened up countless living room parties.

Now, Summer’s career-defining masterwork is being celebrated with a special 40th anniversary vinyl edition. This is the first time this best-selling classic has been reissued on vinyl since its original release in 1979. The new reissue was released on July 26th and is available as a double LP gatefold pressed on 180-gram vinyl. This collector’s edition also features the vinyl debut of the demo version of the album’s title track as an exclusive bonus, making this the perfect opportunity the relive the magical vinyl experience of Donna Summer’s Bad Girls all over again. So, dim all the lights and take a musical journey into the center of the heart of one of the most captivating classic dance albums of all time. [Read full article]

The Queen of Pop returns with audacious ‘Madame X’ but is it the Madonna album fans really want?

Now that I’ve listened to Madonna’s latest work in its entirety, I will say the best word I can think of to describe my initial reaction is confounded. Upon first listen, the bulk of Madame X strikes me as material left over from Rebel Heart, but the outtakes from those sessions were actually more exciting than most of what Madonna serves up here. Throughout the album’s duration, I sometimes found myself dazzled, yet other times I was fully disheartened. The only things here that come close to being creatively interesting are: “Dark Ballet” (with its quasi-classical break), the choir laden and danceable “God Control” and the self-referential “Extreme Occident.” Unfortunately, the annoyingly repetitious “Crazy” sounds like a bad Taylor Swift song that you hope you never have to listen to again.

The closest things you’ll find resembling “classic” Madonna here are: the danceable “I Don’t Search I Find,” the downbeat balladry of “Looking for Mercy” and the declaration of perseverance testament “I Rise.” These particular highlights sound as if the best parts of Madonna’s talent were determined to escape Jeff Bhasker, Jason Evigan and Mirwais’ heavy-handed production stratagems. [Read full review here]