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Review: The Chewers, ‘Chuckle Change And Also’


chuckle-change-and-also-album-art On Chuckle Change And Also, The Chewers show the beauty of being ‘off-kilter’

The Chewers • Chuckle Change And Also • Cimmerian Shade 

The Chewers are: Travis Caffrey & Michael Sadler

Sometimes, when you hear something wild and whacky in life, you find yourself looking in bewilderment like WTF? My friends, after listening to the 22-track album that is Chuckle Change And Also by West Virginian duo The Chewers (by way of Nashville, TN), I found myself expressing this sentiment after every track. Folks, Chuckle Change is definitely some kind of a ride. Throw the idea of ‘standard’ out the door prior to the first track as this album is incredibly progressive. Sometimes the progressive nature hurts accessibility, but ultimately, that is a necessary sacrifice for the good of the album and future of music. While it’s not the ‘second coming’ (way too dark and devilish for that), Chuckle Change offers the listener a true alternative to trendiness, conformity, and what pitfalls can make commercial music come off as generic and empty.

(Now)” opens the off-kilter effort as one would expect – off-kilter. As to exactly what is going on, well that question is still needs to be answered. Regardless, “(Now)” and all of its near 50 seconds of off-kilter-ness (is that even a word?) definitely sets the tone. The minimalist, noisy “Can’t Sleep” is evidence of the ‘tone’ that characterizes the entirety of Chuckle Change And Also. Bizarre yet in its own quirky way genius, “Can’t Sleep” represents…um… nonconformity. Nonconformity and being fearless to be different is something more musicians could stand to embrace. The Chewers certainly do, referencing not only the obvious lack of “sleep”, but also accompany the idea lyrically whether it is “tomorrow’s looming in the dark” or “body tense…stressed / the more I fret, the less I rest”. The oddball groove is nothing short of hypnotic. “Burn It Down” is lengthier than the opening duo, pacing itself into a foot-tapping groove. As groovy as it is, don’t think The Chewers have settled into being ‘normal’. There is still a tension as one listens, with guitar and effect-laden lead vocals leading the charge.

The bizarre experience continues with the weirdly titled “Techno-Slaves”, which lives up to its unique name. The production has techno sound effects that seem to signal outer space: “Space is feeling with magnet waves… the brain is a megaphone that can’t shut off…” WTF? Honestly, it doesn’t really matter. The Chewers have the audience’s attention from the opening note and they retain it throughout if for no other reason to see where they’re going musically. “Filthy” proves to be as unorthodox as everything else, with a hint of jazz added to the mix (for lack of a better stylistic choice). If the audience gets nothing else from a minute-and-a-half of “Filthy”, they learn that these dudes are filthy – at least contextually within the song (“Walking down the street in crusted clothes…I haven’t bathed in a thousand days / I’m filthy”). Then comes “Some Folks”, which manages to use the word “malignant” lyrically… For those who don’t mind dissonance, the accusatory “Some Folks” is your cup of tea.

What better way to follow up the previous “(Now)” with “(Later)”, another unexplainable interlude? While cohesiveness probably shouldn’t be in the same sentence with this album in general (save for overall being ‘all over the place’), at least there is a connection between, well something. “(Later)” is followed up with the gutty sounding instrumental “A Part Machine”, which once more gives the listener a sick groove to latch onto. When all other sense of normalcy fails, cling to the groove! “A Part Machine” is more than a groove – it is actually quite an alluring soundscape if you will. The bright rhythmic guitar coupled with a sense of ‘twistedness’ makes this instrumental truly notable. “Inmate 227” confounds immediately, yet it does make some sense. It’s about an inmate being released from prison. It’s not your standard narrative for a song, but what is standard about this album? Exactly!

After “Inmate 227”, the focus comes to “Smiling Samuel”, another heck of a song title. Creepy, the sentiment is few want to hang out with Sam – and perhaps even The Chewers, LOL! Difficult to listen to yet respectably creative, “Smiling Samuel” continues to find The Chewers flexing. It takes little analysis to under “The Fat Man”, but it is arguably a bit more bearable than “Smiling Samuel”. It’s not the most attractive track (understatement), but The Chewer’s musicianship and ‘off-kilter’ ideas play well here. “The Fat Man” definitely would be perfect for Halloween, but then again, so would much of this album. The brief “Mutter” proceeds. While it is brief, “mutter” isn’t very quiet…LOL. And as for “I’m Afraid”, well, I’ve held that sentiment since track one – just saying! With the production playing like a tone poem, the tense music definitely exemplifies the title and listener’s likely emotions.

Down There” is equally, if not more horrifying and definitely extraterrestrial. Face it, that organ is “very, very frightening! Galileo!” Then when the “Teeth Lock” cacophonously with tribal-like pounding drums, shiiizzz gets real…cray that is! “Teeth Lock” definitely brings several distinct names to mind – Lucifer, Baal, Satan, Mephistopheles – catch my drift? While perhaps repentance is a must after listening, at least the sin was a creative and intriguing one while it lasted! Guess what follows “(Now)” and “(Later)”? “(Past)” of course… and “That’s all I have to say about that!” Forrest Gump reference of course. Whether “Box Head Space” somehow connects to the ‘past’ would take a couple more listens to decode, but where overall sound lies, it is very much a product of the future. It’s truly out in space.

Tornado of Stasis” ends up receiving the honor of the lengthiest joint, breaking with the brevity that characterizes the majority. While the dissonant track is as ugly as they come, it once more plays faithfully to its title. Tornadoes are incredibly scary and often life altering weather events as they funnel and destroy everything in sight, including the living. Stasis of course is defined as a state of stability or as Merriam-Webster simplifies it, stagnation. Put the two ideas together, coupled with the adventurous music, and the perfect storm is before us.   What’s interesting, at least from a personal perspective, is that the slow tempo seems to represent bore and lethargy of stasis, while the dissonance exemplifies the tornado. A highlight – by all means!

There is still some “Steam” (a little more than a half-minute’s worth) following the storm, while “Funnel Head” infuses rejuvenated energy and eccentricity. “Funnel Head” should please metal heads, given its jaggedness. Penultimate track “Blank Pavement” delivers excellent pacing, beginning unstable but developing stability along the way. It’s still freaky stuff, but you take accessibility where and when it’s offered. Closing cut “Went Away” is definitely spacey; rather than relying heavily on noisiness, it invests more into sounding drugged out.

So… what’s the verdict on arguably the year’s most left of center album? It’s actually very well done and definitely stands out. While calling Chuckle Change a masterpiece might be an exaggeration, it is indeed captivating, even when it’s harder to process. From a musical standpoint, you get the impression that these West Virginia boys are out to make a unique statement with this particular album and brand of music. They easily accomplish this feat. If you need some quirk in your life, this is the album for you!

Favorites:

“Can’t Sleep”; “Techno-Slaves”; “A Part Machine”; “The Fat Man”; “Teeth Lock”; “Tornado of Stasis”

Verdict: ★★★★

5 Seconds of Summer Settle For No. 2


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5 Seconds of Summer, the new Australian teen band, has nothing to hang their heads about; debuting at no. 2 with 143,000 copies of a four-song EP (She Looks So Perfect) is definitely notable.  Settling for that no. 2 spot behind the unstoppable Frozen Soundtrack (149,000 copies sold) – well that should boost confidence even more considering no one can end Frozen’s run.  After the slim margin separating album nos. 1 and 2, there is a huge gap.  Chevelle’s La Gargola sold 45,000 copies, good for the no. 3 spot.  Former “Jar of Hearts” pop singer/songwriter Christina Perri debuts at a familiar spot (no. 4), but does so smaller numbers for sophomore album Head or Heart (40,000 copies).  Country gets its representation from Dan + Shay, who sold 29,000 copies of Where It All Began (no. 6).  Nickel Creek also get a top ten berth, selling 27,000 copies of their first album following a lengthy hiatus, Why Should the Fire Die?  Hey, they don’t call it lucky no. 7 for no reason, right?

On the songs chart, specifically the Billboard Hot 100, Pharrell Williams continues to make us all “Happy” for yet another week, according to Billboard.  What is most shocking to me is that John Legend’s “All Of Me” is so hot, though I felt the hit potential when the underappreciated Love in the Future arrived in September 2013.  For R&B and for Legend, the popularity of the rather conservative track is awesome.

Next week doesn’t seem electrifying as far as notable new releases.  Still, albums arrive from Martina McBride (Everlasting), MercyMe (Welcome To The New), James Durbin (Celebrate), and SoMo (SoMo) among others. “It is what is”.

Music Shopping List: What To Consider Buying April 8, 2014


91oaj2JsGOL._SL1500_Ah new release Tuesday, where dreams come true and are broken for many artists who hope their album will sell these days.  This Tuesday, April 8, 2014, the releases aren’t exactly star-studded – that would be an understatement.  That said, there are some possibilities to choose from, whether you’re looking to go vintage, be spiritually uplifted, or want to stomach an immature pop star’s life…

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1

Duets

Linda Ronstadt

Rhino

(Pop)

Ronstadt doesn’t release new music anymore, but the vocalist has released more than enough classic material to solidify her veteran musician status.  Duets is a compilation featuring some of Ronstadt’s most notable collaborations with others including “Don’t Know Much” with Aaron Neville and “Somewhere Out There” with James Ingram.

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2

Catacombs of The Black Vatican

Black Label Society

Entertainment One

(Metal)

The title should be enough to allure the potential listener – or drive them away (whichever comes first).  Catacombs of the Black Vatican is the heavy metal band Black Label Society’s fourth release for mega indie label Entertainment One and their tenth studio album overall.

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3

Welcome To The New

MercyMe

Fair Trade/ Columbia

(Christian)

Jesus freaks everywhere should be rejoicing as one of the preeminent contemporary Christian bands releases their follow-up to 2012 LP The Hurt & The Healer.  And yes, I do realize “Jesus Freak” was the title of a dc Talk album and song, not MercyMe – LOL.  

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4

Everlasting

Martina McBride

Vinyl Records

(Country/R&B)

Martina McBride’s latest album definitely isn’t your standard country album.  McBride covers soul classics including “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” and “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted”.  On a rendition of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home” she brings Gavin DeGraw along for the ride while she gets the assist from Kelly Clarkson on “In the Basement”.  If there were a country artist to pull it off, McBride would certainly be the one to do it.

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5

Love & Hate

Joan Osborne

Entertainment One

(Rock)

Entertainment One adds yet another album to the April 8th release date with Joan Osborne’s latest album, Love & HateLove & Hate marks the Kentucky-born artist’s eighth studio album.  The album follows up 2012 LP Bring It On Home.

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6

Justin Bieber’s Believe

Justin Bieber

Universal Studios

(Pop/Documentary)

My advice would be to proceed with caution here…really.

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7

Celebrate

James Durbin

Wind-Up

(Rock)

The former American Idol contestant drops his sophomore album Celebrate, albeit with little fanfare.  Celebrate follows up 2011 debut, Memories of a Beautiful Disaster.

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8

SoMo

SoMo

Republic

(R&B)

After releasing My Life digitally in 2013, burgeoning R&B artist (another YouTube discovery), release his ‘official’ self-titled debut via Republic.

Shakira Settles For No. 2 as ‘Frozen’ Keeps The Top Spot Warm


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On the Billboard 200 Albums Chart this week, multiple new albums graced the top ten.  Unfortunately for them, not were able to take down reigning champ Frozen Soundtrack, which once more sells six figures (161,000 copies) according to Billboard.  The new releases underperformed where numbers are concerned, keeping Frozen easily ahead of them. Frozen, led by ubiquitous Academy Award winning song “Let It Go” seems unstoppable.  As to what or who could kill Frozen’s vibe, I don’t know.

51Z9GVuOpnL._SL500_AA280_Shakira was unable to stop the beloved soundtrack, as Shakira. debuted in the runner-up slot with only 84,000 copies.  84,000 copies is nothing to snicker about, but for the pop diva, the numbers are underwhelming.  Johnny Cash’s lost album Out Among the Stars comes in third place, selling 54,000 copies.  The gap between nos. 2 and 3 is incredible, and the ride continues as Memphis May Fire land at no. 4 with 27,000 copies sold of Unconditional.  The difference between the top four album totals at 161,000, 84,000, 54,000, and 27,000 is incredible.  The top four albums sold approximately 326,000 copies.

Erica Campbell couldn’t squeeze her way into the top 5, but she did make it to no. 6 with her gospel solo debut Help, selling 23,000 copies (a piece off from her Mary Mary albums). Barry Manilow wasn’t far off from Campbell, as Night Songs fell one spot behind with 22,000 copies sold.  My Chemical Romance’s May Death Never Stop You (Greatest Hits) sold 20,000 copies, good for a no. 9 debut.   Still, examining the 20K copies of each of the aforementioned, the ceiling of each album seems incredibly low.  Sure, you don’t expect a gospel album (Campbell’s Help) to go extremely far on the pop charts, but still, given the crossover appeal of Campbell/Mary Mary, you might expect slightly more enthusiastic numbers.

Judging by titles issued this week, the charts may still be only so-so come next week. Releases from MKTO (MKTO), Ronnie James Dio (This Is Your Life), Chevelle (La Gargola), Nickel Creek (A Dotted Line), or Christina Perri (Head or Heart) don’t exactly scream big-time hit potential, no offense.

Playlist: Favorite Songs From March Album Releases


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March was a rich month for music releases.  After listening and reviewing multiple albums, it is always fun to pick out one big time standout.  Sometimes it is a difficult choice, while other times it’s the only choice (particularly on a sub-par album).  After looking back through my late-February and March reviews, I’ve compiled a playlist of one favorite from each album.

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Morning”

Beck

From the album Morning Phase 

Note: Morning Phase was a late February release that wasn’t reviewed until March.

becki-20140227-62Folks, Beck is the man.  Morning Phase was yet another stacked album from the hipster with numerous top-notch songs.  A personal favorite was the first full-length track, “Morning” of which I penned the following:

…Constructed with lush strings at its core, “Cycle” foreshadows the electrifying opener, “Morning”.  Sure, “Morning” lacks tempo by all means, opting for balladry, but it’s extremely beautiful and perfectly suits Beck’s unique voice.  Beck breaks enough with the ‘acoustic resolve’ here, with Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. adding some synthesizer color.  The ‘color’ element is something found throughout Morning Phase, even if it is subtle. Lyrically, the entire song is thoughtfully penned, with the chorus standing out tremendously: “This morning / I let down my defenses / this morning / it was just you and me…” Clocking in at over five minutes, “Morning” is no drag by any means.

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“The Purge”

Schoolboy Q featuring Tyler, The Creator & Kurupt

From the album Oxymoron

Note: Oxymoron was a late February release that wasn’t reviewed until March.

Schoolboy Q exhibits grittiness about him throughout the course of Oxymoron, which ultimately proves to be a solid album. It’s not the most pleasant album to listen to in regards to its content mind you, but the quality is there. “The Purge” was among my favorites:

“The Purge” is a beast, produced by and featuring Tyler, The Creator. Again, Schoolboy Q’s daughter establishes the tone: “My daddy said drown, n***a.”  The significance of the line seems to be “the purge” that Schoolboy Q references within the title and song.  “Coming in for yours / n***as got them choppers and they knocking at your door,” Tyler, the Creator spits on the hook. “The sirens getting louder when the bodies hit the floor / why you look confused? Motherf**ker this is war.” Schoolboy Q plays right into the maliciousness, referencing kilos, drug money, and guns. Q’s most notable moment comes during a bridge between verses: “Bust my gun all by myself / rock cocaine all by myself / poured propane all on myself / go so hard might harm myself.”  Oh, and did I mention Kurupt also guests on the third verse? “The Purge” goes hard. 

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“Going To The Ceremony”

Kid Cudi

From the album Satellite Flight: Journey to Mother Moon

 Note: Satellite Flight was a late February release that wasn’t reviewed until March.

Kid Cudi-AES-083737Kid Cudi is an oddball – as left field as they come. This nonconformity is what makes him shine, yet also hurts his overall accessibility to many Earth dwellers. A surprise fourth album in Satellite Flight proves to be as confounding as it is interesting.  Still, “Going To The Ceremony” was a moment where the Kid was at his best/true to himself:

The real heat comes with “Going To The Ceremony”, the first vocal track of Satellite Flight. Opening uniquely itself with spoken word intro (“Now certainly we all recognize the extremely, extremely low probability / of life existing on the moon”), the track dives right into the rock-rap, left-of-center approach that Kid Cudi as well as WZRD has come to be known for.  This includes the typical humming, the repetitive lyrics (“But I don’t know where I’m going / where I’m going, it’s all happening / I’m going, it’s all happening”), as well as the driving, minimalism. “Going To The Moon” is familiar fare for the artist.

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“Digital Witness”

St. Vincent

From the album St. Vincent

Note: St. Vincent was a late February release that wasn’t reviewed until March.

St Vincent-PKE-000036From one oddball to another, it should be noted that St. Vincent once guested on a Kid Cudi album – Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager to be precise.  On her own self-titled album, St. Vincent awes with her incredible songwriting abilities, with none usurping the brilliant “Digital Witness”:

“Digital Witness” is a definitely standout, with its soulful, groove-laden production work. St. Vincent definitely criticizes social media/networking, and how it’s affected traditional social relationships. “People turn the TV on, it looks like a window.” Basically, St. Vincent seems to suggest that real-life interaction has been supplanted with any number apps and social networking avenues. “Digital witnesses / what’s the point of even sleeping,” St. Vincent sings on the chorus. “If I can’t show it if you can’t see me / what’s the point of doing anything?” Does she overreact to the power of social media? Perhaps or perhaps not, but she makes one awesome song in the process.

Read More…

Can’t Just “Let It Go”: Frozen Soundtrack Is No. 1 Once More


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After six non-consecutive weeks atop the Billboard 200 Albums Charts, the Frozen Soundtrack makes it a seventh week at the penthouse. This week, Frozen rallies to sell a gargantuan 202,000 copies. I guess folks just can’t “Let It Go” – bad joke, I know.  I’d say that the release of the album to DVD/Blu-ray/Digital likely had a role in elevating those sales. After Frozen, things get a bit hairier.

61RmtewJi0L._SL500_AA280_YG debuts at no. 2 with album My Krazy Life, which sold 61,000 copies.  61,000 copies isn’t a bad number, but don’t call it sexy either.  Foster The People land at no. 3, moving 54,000 copies of Supermodel, their second album.   Skrillex follows at no. 4 with Recess, which sold 47,000 copies.  Apparently there were physical copies of Recess, though when I visited the CD section, I was unable to find it – it obviously got its sales totals from digital sales.  Rock band The Pretty Reckless bow at no. 5, with 35,000 copies sold of Going to Hell (charming title, right?).  Enrique Iglesias’ Sex and Love enters in at no. 8 with a tepid 24,000 copies while Taking Back Sunday land at no. 10 with 22,000 copies sold of Happiness Is. Iglesias and Taking Back Sunday have both had better days where sales are concerned.

Happy” continues to be the story on the Billboard Hot 100 as Pharrell Williams’ infectious throwback R&B single is a big-time hit. Perhaps more surprising is the success of John Legend’s “All of Me”, which according to billboard.com has risen to no. 2 this week!  Two R&B tracks sit in the top two of the Billboard Hot 100 – shocking!

Several new releases landed in the top 10 this week, even though the numbers were so-so for some.  Next week, new albums arrive courtesy of Shakira (Shakira), Karmin (Pulses), Johnny Cash (Out Among the Stars), Erica Campbell (HELP), and My Chemical Romance (May Death Never Stop You: Greatest Hits 2001 – 2013) among others. All should definitely have no trouble charting and making some noise.

March Madness: 16 Songs For The Sweet 16


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The first four, second round, and third rounds of the NCAA Tournament are over my friends, and after numerous upsets and the birth of those Cinderella teams looking for another shot to slay the giant, the tournament marches on with the upcoming Sweet 16 and Elite 8.  What better way to celebrate and prepare for these deep tournament runs with a playlist of 16 songs fit for the Sweet 16? Let’s go #TEAM! 

1

Queen

“We Will Rock You” 

Most spirited lyrics:

Buddy you’re a young man hard man / shouting in the street gonna take on the world some day / you got blood on your face, you big disgrace / waving your banner all over the place” (verse one)

“We will, we will rock you!” (Chorus)

Swag, swag, swag! The big boys are going to take down the little boys – the fakes are out!  “We Will Rock You” isn’t ultimately about basketball, but the ‘fight’ within the lyrics of the song sounds much like the moxie and the mind-set required on the court.  “We Will Rock You” is confident, much like a veteran, and experienced team that understands their roles should be.  Nope, it’s not basketball specific, but there are more than enough parallels.   

2

Aloe Blacc

“The Man”

(From Lift Your Spirit) 

Aloe Blacc-LMK-060235Most spirited lyrics:

“Well you can tell everybody / yeah you can tell everybody / go ahead and tell everybody / I’m the man, I’m the man, I’m the man”

Athletes and musicians have something in common, even if they come from completely different worlds – they have a swagger, a confidence, sometimes an arrogance.  A lead singer, guitarist, or lead trumpeter can be likened to the star player on a basketball team (regardless of the position he plays be it guard, forward, or center) in the sense there is that fearlessness and confidence.  On “The Man”, Blacc wants everybody to know that he’s “the man”.

3

Jeezy featuring Kanye West

“Put On

(From The Recession) 

Most spirited lyrics:

“I put on for my city, on, on for my city…put on (east side)…put on (south side)…put on (west side) / put on”

Sure, Jeezy didn’t even mention basketball or championships in his song about representing his city, but the sentiment can be transferred into college basketball.  After all, don’t all college basketball players want to represent both college and hometown? Winning the national championship would definitely be away to do so! 

4

Wale featuring Meek Mill & Rick Ross

“Ambition

(From Ambition) 

Wale-20130912-19Most Spirited lyrics:

“For my ambition / easy to dream a dream, though it’s harder to lie it / They gon’ love me for my ambition…Beautiful music, painting pictures that be my vision.” 

There’s a number of ways one could interpret the “ambition” of which Wale speaks.  One such way is just having dreams in general, taken contextually within the tournament, means winning the national championship.  A more liberal interpretation is that Wale is referencing the Cinderella teams, which aren’t favored to win, but ultimately ‘shock the world’.  Yes, the Dayton Flyers (defeated Ohio State 60-59 and Syracuse 55-53) and Mercer (defeated Duke 78-71) among others.  Sigh… if the slipper fits!

5

Chingy

“Balla Baby”

(From Powerballin’) 

Most spirited lyrics

“I’m a balla (say what) high, roller baby (baby, baby) / shot caller (that’s right) aint nobody this crazy (like me) / you a hater (you a hater) why you tryin’ to play me (I don’t think he know) / Fake player (fake player) ain’t nobody killin’ (hey, I’m a balla for real)”

There’s really not a lot that needs to be explained here… Chingy is the point guard (“Shot caller”).  We all know that besides the coach that the point guard is like the coach on court.  And if the point guard doesn’t have a clue, the team is toast.  Horrendous guard play definitely kills the vibe.  Word.   

6

Christina Aguilera

“Fighter”

(From Stripped) 

Christina Aguilera-AES-115812Most spirited lyrics:

“I am a fighter and I / I ain’t gonna stop / There is no turning back / I’ve had enough”

I know what you’re thinking – why the hell is a Christina Aguilera song about a broken relationship on a March Madness-related playlist? Well it’s the ‘sentiment’ of ‘fighting’ more so than the lyrical content.  Aguilera is a “fighter” because she decided not to play the ‘victim’ card and has shown strength from a bad situation.  College basketball players and teams face a different sort of fight – the fight to advance further in the tournament and to live up/meet expectations whether they are realistic or unrealistic.  Blue blood schools in particular are expected to be competing for championships, not merely a sweet sixteen.  That “fighter” mentality that Aguilera refers to apply to collegiate basketball after broken plays whether it’s poor transition defense, a bad foul, a missed shot, etc.  “Fighter” mentality!

7

Drake featuring Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Eminem

“Forever”

Drake-AES-089760Most spirited lyrics:

“…I’m shutting down sh*t in the mall…I want this sh*t forever, man” (Hook)

“Forever” is the ultimate baller’s anthem.  Sure, the song really has nothing to do with being on the court, but like many of the cuts on this playlist, there are parallels to having ‘swagger’ on the court.  Drake’s opening rhymes from his verse exhibit the grit and confidence players must show: “Last name Ever, first name Greatest / Like a sprained ankle, boy I ain’t nothing to play with.”  Kanye West’s swagger is even more pronounced on the second verse, in which he claims “I stuck my d**k inside this life until that b**ch came / and went hard, all fall like the ball teams.” Ignore the overt sexual references, and West is the MVP…he’s already claimed victory.  For good measure, Lil Wayne references Space Jam while Eminem just goes H.A.M.  

8

DJ Khaled featuring Ludacris, Rick Ross, Snoop Dogg & T-Pain

“All I Do Is Win”

Most spirited lyrics:

“All I do is win, win, win no matter what / Got money on my mind, I can never get enough / and every time I step up in the building / everybody hands go up / and they stay there, and they stay there…” (T-Pain, on the hook)

Confidence is essential to playing sound basketball – it’s part of the whole teamwork aspect.  The best teams have the confidence knowing they will be playing deep into March.  Teams that lack the resolve and the “winning” spirit exemplified by “All I Do Is Win” go home with their heads hung down.  T-Pain sings it best on the hook – ‘nuff said.

Read More…

Music Shopping List: 8 Albums To Consider on March 25, 2014


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As March is nearing its completion, the final release week of the month has numerous album possibilities to add to one’s collection.  A posthumous release from a country legend, one cool pop-duo (with some other styles involved), and a powerhouse, inspirational half of a contemporary gospel-duo. Phew – what a mouthful! Check out the following list containing 8 albums to consider on New Music Tuesday, March 25, 2014.  

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1

Johnny Cash

Out Among The Stars

(Country)

Out Among The Stars is a legit lost album from the legendary Johnny Cash.  Since his death in 2003, numerous posthumously released efforts have been issued.  It is safe to say, Mr. Cash was quite prolific.

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2

Shakira

Shakira.

(Latin, Pop)

“The Hips Don’t Lie” chanteuse returns with her first new album since 2010 effort Sale el Sol, which launched at no. 7 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart.  Shakira is led by single “Can’t Remember to Forget You”, which features Rihanna.

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3

Karmin

Pulses

(Pop) 

Pulses gives the engaged pop duo their first official full-length debut.  Karmin previous issue an EP entitled Hello, which was led by popular single “Brokenhearted”.  Pulses is led by single “I Want It All”.  A music video was recently issued for the title track (“Pulses”) while “Acapella” was issued as a single back in 2013.  

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4

Barry Manilow

Night Songs

(Easy Listening) 

Barry Manilow original albums are hard to come by these days at this point in the singer’s career.  Continuing on the covers path much like his contemporary Rod Stewart, Manilow releases yet another covers album with Night Songs.  Likely, this album should appeal to the older, more traditional crowd.  

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5

My Chemical Romance

May Death Never Stop You (Greatest Hits 2001 – 2013)

(Rock)

MCR are no more, but that doesn’t prevent a greatest hits compilation from rightfully materializing.  After all, My Chemical Romance did four studio albums: I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love (2002), Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (2004), The Black Parade (2006), and Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys (2010).  Three Cheers… and The Black Parade are MCR’s bestselling albums.

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6

Jerrod Niemann

High Noon

(Country) 

The country singer releases his fourth album, High Noon.  Although he has released four albums, his most recent three are the most notable from an availability and relevance standpoint (Long Hard Road was an independent effort).  High Noon arrives two years after Free The Music (2012), which bowed at a disappointing no. 62 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart.  Previous album Judge Jerrod & The Hung Jury (2010) landed at no. 7.  

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7

Erica Campbell

Help

(Gospel) 

Erica Campbell is most recognizable with her sister Tina by her side as gospel duo Mary Mary.  This go-round, Erica goes solo delivering and enjoyable dose of contemporary gospel led by single “A Little More Jesus”.  Having reviewed this album ahead of its release (review available on blackgospel.com), it receives my blessing… no pun intended.

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8

The Hold Steady

Teeth Dreams

(Alternative)

The indie-rock band returns with their first album in 4 years (Heaven Is Whenever, 2010).  Heaven gave The Hold Steady their highest peaking album at no. 26 on the Billboard 200.

March Madness: Best Album Tournament for the 1st Quarter, 2014


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Ah, there is no better time of the year than March Madness… well maybe except for Christmas, LOL! It is a time where brackets continue to be devastated by college basketball teams many haven’t heard of upsetting highly favored giants.  As disappointing (when my John Wall-led UK Wildcats lost to WVU in 2010 in the Elite 8) as it is exciting (when my UK Wildcats won the 2012 Championship), there are few things less satisfying than weekends filled with toughly contested basketball games.  Still, what better way to celebrate all the basketball madness with some music madness?

I chose 16 albums released between January and March 11, 2014 to play off against each other, tournament style – hey can’t get enough of the “Madness” (Muse btw).  Teams were seeded based on my opinion of their quality and how I believe they might be ranked (opinion). Don’t worry, there are some upsets based on basketball tournament trends to keep things interesting (again opinion).  Additionally, each game is assigned an actual score from this year’s tournament or tournaments in the last couple of years.  The score is meant to be indicative of how well matched respective albums would be in a playoff.  Nerdy and pointless – perhaps, but I think its an interesting concept and read (opinion, self-promotion, LOL).

Here’s the bracket:

Best Album Tournament 1st Quarter 2014

Read More…

The Frozen Soundtrack Seems Unstoppable at no. 1


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Well, the headline is pretty familiar folks as the Frozen soundtrack returns to the no. 1 spot yet again.  What is most shocking/impressive is that that the numbers for the album don’t seem to change that much.  This week, Frozen sold another 99,000 copies, a feat that many artists wished their albums could do consistently.  Frozen even killed Luke Bryan’s vibe, as his umpteenth Spring Break EP (Spring Break 6…Like We Ain’t Ever to be accurate), bows at no. 2 with 74,000 copies.  After two no. 1 albums last year, ole boy’s streak stops.  Frozen, “it’s all your fault!”

41Gjnw1dUPL._SL500_AA280_Luke gets some company on the Billboard 200 where debuts are concerned.  Aloe Blacc launches Lift Your Spirit with 45,000 copies sold, good enough to land at no. 4.  311 drop Stereolithic at no. 6, right ahead of Young Money’s second album, Rise of an Empire.  The ‘empire’ may be rising according to Lil Wayne and company, but with a mere 31,000 copies sold, the stock seems to be dropping… No. 7 is a new high for Young Money, but previous self-titled debut sold considerably more despite debuting at no. 9.  Sara Evans doesn’t have a ‘valedictory’ week herself, as Slow Me Down lands at no. 9 with a modest 27,000 copies.  As for my girl Ledisi, well, let’s say her latest The Truth didn’t exceed the peak of Pieces of Me (no. 9), as The Truth misses the top 10.

61RmtewJi0L._SL500_AA280_Pharrell Williams, who manages to stay in the top ten of the albums chart, also keeps no. 1 locked down on the Billboard Hot 100.  People must like the “Happy” vibes.  As far as next week’s potential newbies on the chart, there are some options, but who knows how much any of them will sell.  Supermodel is a notable attraction, courtesy of Foster The PeopleEnrique Iglesias isn’t exactly the force he once was, but Sex and Love might draw in some numbers.  Skrillex drops his latest, Recess, while Taking Back Sunday teach us what Happiness Is.  Oh and throw My Crazy Life (Y.G.) into the mix as well.  May the best…selling album win the race!

Grantland

Sports and Pop Culture from Bill Simmons and our rotating cast of writers | Grantland

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