Musical Leftovers That Probably Shouldn’t Have Been Ignored


Being the human that I am, I couldn’t possibly review or analyze every single album – dang it!  Like Lil Wayne and Young Money once rapped, “I wish I could love every girl in the world…” (In amended form mind you). Well not that I wouldn’t want to “love every girl in the world”, but in this case, I wish I could’ve listened and reviewed even more albums.  Don’t get it twisted folks – I did some work! BUT…I would’ve loved to have done even more.  Here are some of the albums – some of which I even purchased – that fell victim to the “review later” pile…

Nine Inch Nails

Hesitation Marks 

61irMeqIGQL._SL500_AA280_I totally dropped the ball here.  Prior to Hesitation Marks, I’d reviewed NIN’s previous two albums of note (with Teeth and Year Zero) and enjoyed both greatly.  Naturally, I was excited to hear about a new studio album, but perhaps that excitement waned when ‘urban’ music Tuesday (September 3) stole my heart – Ariana Grande, Tamar Braxton, Jaheim, John Legend, and Raheem DeVaughn. It’s kind of like when you have a girl you are interested in, but then you find one that truly steals your heart and you forget about the one you were previously into…or something like that…



41sbNkaS3hL._SL500_AA280_I’ll be honest with you, the two electronic albums I was concerned about in 2013 were Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, which may very well walk home with the Grammy for Album of the Year, and Lady Gaga’s somewhat mixed ARTPOP (“We could, we could, belong together ARTPOP…”).  That said, it’s pretty hard to ignore a song as unique as “Wake Me Up”, which sounds like a country, folk, and electro amalgam.  As captivating as Avicii’s tune was, he apparently found himself on the wrong side of the listening list…same can be said of Zedd as well (Clarity).  Good news is that Krewella and Kaskade got some reviewer love.

Franz Ferdinand

 Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action

51GkBTBnvlL._SL500_AA280_Like a monogamous relationship, I’d been a follower of Alex Kapranos and company.  I swooned like everyone else when “Take Me Out” rocked back in 2004 while finding the homoerotic, bromance of “Michael” to be, well, interesting I suppose, for a lack of better words.  Following their excellent self-titled debut, I’d skip out on their 2005 follow-up You Could Have It So Much Better (“Do You Want To” bring its main attraction), but would rejoin the army with the excellent Tonight: Franz Ferdinand (“No You Girls”).  I suppose keeping in line with my trend of reviewing every other Franz Ferdinand album I just decided to toss Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action aside.  What’s even stranger is that I purchased it… SMH!

October 15, 2013 Releases

41hjJ6RgVnL._SL500_AA280_Something must’ve been in the water on October 15 – or perhaps the budget, LOL.  After purchasing and reviewing the hits from the previous week (Miley CyrusBangerz and Panic! At the Disco‘s Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die), the ball was dropped the following week.  The only release that got love on Tuesday, October 15 was Mary J. Blige‘s A Mary Christmas.  Who was slighted this particular week – Paul McCartney‘s NEW and Pearl Jam‘s number one bowing Lightening Bolt.  Ouch rock veterans…I think I just threw up a little seeing my missed musical opportunities.  Don’t hate me Eddie Vedder…

Country albums…

51PkZT7n5PL._SL500_AA280_One genre that often found itself often tossed aside in my listening stack both physically, digitally, and streaming-wise was country.  I do enjoy country music, but I’ll also be the first to admit it isn’t my go to genre.  A few fortunate albums became blessed with my reviewing touch, including two Luke Bryan albums (Spring Break…Here To Party and Crash), Alan Jackson (Precious Memories Vol. II), Lady Antebellum (Golden), and The Band Perry (Pioneer).  However, many fell by the wayside including releases from Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw, Kacey Musgraves, and American Idol victor Scotty McCreery. Interesting fact is that I bought McCreery’s album at Walmart on Black Friday for $6.96… Let me add though that save for Alan Jackson’s gospel set, I wasn’t incredibly impressed with the albums I did review…just sayin’!

There were many others shunned, but ’tis the life of a music journalist…sigh.

Thoughts on the 56th Annual Grammy Nominations


The Grammys are like a musician’s Super Bowl, even if the nominations and victorious artists are flawed.  I won’t lie to you, I complain every year that someone won a Grammy that didn’t deserve it while someone else was snubbed. Just last year, during the 55th Annual Grammys, I lobbied hard for Frank Ocean (looking back, I have reservations now) while Mumford & Sons walked out with the Album of the Year trophy.  The year that Taylor Swift won for Fearless, my girl Beyoncé was on a roll until the coveted Album of the Year award was read.  You get my position though! This year,  I find myself the most pleased I’ve been with the Grammy nominations in like forever.  That isn’t to say within my colorful, opinionated commentary that I don’t have my rubs, but I’m onboard more often than not for the 56th Annual Grammys.

The Big Four

Record of the Year

Imagine Dragons land a Record of the Year nomination for "Radioactive"
Imagine Dragons land a Record of the Year nomination for “Radioactive”

“Get Lucky”, Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams

“Radioactive”, Imagine Dragons

“Royals”, Lorde

“Locked Out of Heaven”, Bruno Mars

“Blurred Lines”, Robin Thicke featuring T.I. & Pharrell

The Record of the Year field for the 56th Annual Grammy Awards is quite strong – I approve of the choices in other words.  I knew that “Get Lucky” and “Blurred Lines” would score nominations here.   I think “Royals” courtesy of Lorde is extremely deserving of the nomination as is “Radioactive”.  “Locked Out of Heaven” was also a big record, though perhaps its sheen has worn off at this point since Unorthodox Jukebox came out in December of 2012.  Ultimately, excellent nominations by all mean.

Album of the Year

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis score big with multiple Grammy nominations.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis score big with multiple Grammy nominations.

The Blessed Unrest, Sara Bareilles

Random Access Memories, Daft Punk

Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, Kendrick Lamar

The Heist, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Red, Taylor Swift

The Album of the year field always sports one curveball.  There’s nothing wrong with a shocker, except that sometimes that oddball nominee ends up being the victor.  This year’s oddball in a strong field is Sara Bareilles’ The Blessed Unrest.  It was a solid album, but if you’d ask me if I thought it had a shot of being nominated, I would’ve said absolutely not – no disrespect Sara.  I had a feeling Daft Punk, Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and Taylor Swift had a shot here.

Snubs? I thought Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars stood a shot of being nominated for The 20/20 Experience and Unorthodox Jukebox respectively.  I’m not mad about it though (I think there were better albums). Now as for that snub of Vampire Weekend’s Modern City of Vampires… GRRRR!!!

Song of the Year

Katy Perry 'roars' with a Song of the Year nomination for "Roar".
Katy Perry ‘roars’ with a Song of the Year nomination for “Roar”.

“Just Give Me The Reason” (Pink featuring Nate Ruess)

“Locked Out of Heaven” (Bruno Mars)

“Roar” (Katy Perry)

“Royals” (Lorde)

“Same Love” (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert)

This is an interesting list with some solid choices as well.  “Just Give Me The Reason” was a hit and a fine song, though I’m not sure if I’d consider it ‘song of the year’ (it was a no. 1 hit though).  The reprisal of both “Locked Out of Heaven” and “Royals” is a welcome nomination here.  “Same Love” may be the biggest surprise, but feels like a smart unexpected nomination here.  “Roar” is another exceptional choice, though you wonder how it managed to miss out on a Record of the Year nod as well.

Best New Artist

Kendrick Lamar lands multiple Grammy nominations, including Album of the Year and Best New Artist.
Kendrick Lamar lands multiple Grammy nominations, including Album of the Year and Best New Artist.

James Blake

Kendrick Lamar

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Kacey Musgraves

Ed Sheeran

No complaints here.  James Blake is actually on his second album, but 2013 effort Overgrown really elevated the British electronic artist’s stock.  Kendrick Lamar and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were locks with no explanation needed.  Kacey Musgraves, who I personally have not heard, has been getting some buzz, so her nod seems well representative of country.  Ed Sheeran seemed to have a bigger year previously when “The A Team” was nominated for Song of the Year, but whatever.

Snubs? Lorde.  Lorde received plenty of love for “Royals”, so why none in the Best New Artist? You could also argue A$AP Rocky, though rap is well covered here.

Continue reading “Thoughts on the 56th Annual Grammy Nominations”

Chart Moves, September 11, 2013: Ariana Grande Tops


Chart Rewind (Highlights), September 04, 2013

51yRS7ThmxL._SL500_AA280_Avenged Sevenfold found themselves in a familiar place, no. 1, with 159,000 copies sold of Hail To The King.  Hip hop had another showing, but definitely not comparable to the summer trifecta of Kanye West, J. Cole, and Mac MillerBig Sean debuted at no. 3 with 72,000 copies of Hall of Fame while Juicy J landed right behind him at no. 4 with 64,000 copies of Stay Trippy.

By the way, what about those acts that got no love? Franz Ferdinand debuted at no. 24 with Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. Mandisa’s latest Overcomer landed at no. 29.  Goodie Mob’s comeback effort (Age Against The Machine) truly received nada, debuting at no. 30.  I suppose you win some and you lose some.

Grande Leads The Charge

Ariana Grande-GFR-020808Ariana Grande debuts atop the Billboard Albums Chart with 138,000 copies of Yours Truly sold.  For most of the week, it seemed that Grande would be dueling with a reintroduced Tamar Braxton for the number one spot. In the end, the young Mariah Carey-favoring singer/actress takes her rightful crown. Tamar Braxton debuts at no. 2 with Love & War selling 114,000 copies.  For an adult contemporary R&B album, that ain’t bad at all folks.  Honestly, I’m shocked that Braxton moved six figures… you just never know.

Nine Inch Nails debuts expectedly at no. 3 with 107,000 copies of Hesitation Marks sold.  Unfortunately, the 107,000 copies is a far cry from Nine Inch Nails’ previous major label efforts.  Still, six figures in this day and age is respectable.  Maybe these new kiddos just don’t know about Trent Reznor. Sigh.

41o5xUIKO+L._SL500_AA280_John Legend lands at no. 4 with with Love in the FutureLove in the Future sold only 68,000 copies, down from the 133,000 copies that graced his last solo effort, Evolver (2008).  That said, Love in the Future did sell more than Legend’s collaborative album with The Roots, Wake Up! According to  For an artist with such soul and talent, it is sad that 68,000 copies was the ceiling.  Better than the 55,000 copies prognosticated originally.

Jaheim doesn’t have his greatest sales week either, as Appreciation Day received little appreciation ultimately moving only 58,000 copies good for a no. 6 bow.  Jaheim has never moved gargantuan numbers, but in 2006, Ghetto Classics did debut atop the Billboard 200 with 152,000 copies sold.  2007 effort The Makings of a Man just missed the top ten (it was a December release), but sold a career best 176,000 copies.  Even 2010 effort Another Round had little to hold it’s head down about; it sold 112,000 copies good for a no. 3 bow. But 58,000 copies? That ain’t going nowhere.

Katy Perry Roars On

Really, what else is their to say… Katy Perry already told you we’d hear her roar. And she’s roaring at no. 1 a second week.  Case closed.

Who’s Got Next?

51gNJ-wAuTL._SL500_AA280_Several new efforts materialized on Tuesday, September 10.  This includes Keith Urban’s Fuse,   2 Chainz’s B.O.A.T.S. II, Janelle Monáe’s The Electric Lady, The Weeknd’s Kiss Land, Sheryl Crow’s Feels Like Home, Goldfrapp’s Tales of Us, Trombone Shorty’s Say That To Say This, Sean Kingston’s Back 2 Life, Kaskade’s Atmosphere Earth Wind & Fire’s Now, Then & Forever, Gloria Estefan’s The Standards and Arctic Monkey’s AM Ones to watch? Keith Urban, 2 Chainz, Sheryl Crow, and possibly The Weeknd.  Curious to see how the sales come out for these albums.

Forthcoming Albums To Anticipate (August 2013 Onward)


As we are transitioning into the late summer, the album releases become increasingly more ‘blockbuster’ like.  Face it, the end of the year is always loaded.  We don’t know all of the releases that will materialize yet, but we already have a rich group of new albums we will be spinning beginning in August.


Lady Gaga, ARTPOP 

Genre: Pop / Dance

Anticipated U.S. Release date: November 11, 2013

lady-gaga-artpop-650-430“Let’s have some fun this beat is sick / I wanna take a ride on your disco stick!” Whenever a new Gaga album is released, watch out.  Details will come soon enough, but after a two year hiatus (Born This Way, 2011), is the world ready for nu Gaga? (That’s rhetorical). I’ll tell you one thing though, go ahead an sign, seal, and deliver another triumphant number one bow on the album charts.


Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience 2, etc. 

Genre: Pop

Anticipated U.S. Release date: N/A

Had we not already gotten our first taste of Justin Timberlake returning in a big way earlier this year, then JT probably would’ve topped this list.  2013 has been the year of Justin Timberlake, and it should continue this fall.  We’ve already be introduced to the set’s first single, “Take Back The Night”.


Arcade Fire, N/A

Genre: Alternative

Anticipated U.S. Release date: October 29, 2013

Arcade-Fire-006Right now the details are few about Arcade Fire’s follow up to The Suburbs (2010).  The Suburbs was a triumph, debuting at number one on the albums chart with 156,000 copies and selling 765,000 copies total. Numbers aside, The Suburbs won the coveted Album of the Year at the Grammys in 2011.


Elton John, The Diving Board

Genre: Pop / Rock

Anticipated U.S. Release date: September 24, 2013

This is a BIG Elton John release.  The 66 year old veteran is releasing his first solo album in seven years.  Ain’t much changed… he co-writes with his homeboy Bennie Taupin and we wouldn’t have it any other way.


Cher, Closer To The Truth

Genre: Pop / Dance

Anticipated U.S. Release date: September 24, 2013

Premiere Of "The Zookeeper" - ArrivalsIt’s been eleven years since Cher’s last studio album (Living Proof, 2002).  Can the 67 year old rekindle the fire after such a long hiatus? Let’s hope there’s another “Believe” in her!


John Mayer, Paradise Valley

Genre: Pop / Rock

Anticipated U.S. Release date: August 20, 2013

XXX _JOHN MAYER GAP 1669.JPG A FEAEvery John Mayer album seems to make a nice dent in the charts.  I have no doubt that Paradise Valley will follow suit and likely find itself at the penthouse.  That said, wasn’t it surprising that his 2012 effort Born and Raised missed out on the Grammy love he usually gets?


Nine Inch Nails, Hesitation Marks 

Genre: Alternative

Anticipated U.S. Release date: September 3, 2013

trent-reznor_1358298cThis is Nine Inch Nails’ first album since The Slip from 2008.  The Slip was given away for free is memory serves me correctly.  If you want to get technical, their last proper album via major label was 2007’s Year Zero, which debuted at number two (187,000) behind Avril Lavigne’s The Best Damn Thing.


Genre: Alternative

Anticipated U.S. Release date: September 17, 2013

mgmt1Who does trippy much better than MGMT? The duo’s third album arrives after a three year hiatus. 2010 effort Congratulations debuted triumphantly at number two with 66,000 copies sold.


Earth, Wind & Fire, Now, Then & Forever

Genre: R&B

Anticipated U.S. Release date: September 10, 2013

It’s the legendary soul band’s first album in eight years (Illumination, 2005)! Explanation enough!


Panic! At The Disco, Too Weird To Live, To Rare To Die 

Genre: Alternative

Anticipated U.S. release date: October 8, 2013

panic-2013-400Panic! At The Disco return with their fourth album, led by Janet Jackson alluding poppy single “Miss Jackson”.  “Miss Jackson are you nasty?” LOL.  Too Weird To Live, To Rare To Die follows up 2011 effort, Vices & Virtues.  


Raheem DeVaughn, A Place Called Loveland

Genre: R&B

Anticipated U.S. Release date: August 20, 2013

The neo-soul hippie returns after a three year hiatus (The Love & War MasterPeace, 2010).


Franz Ferdinand, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action 

Genre: Alternative

Anticipated U.S. Release date: August 27, 2013

Franz-Ferdinand-in-2009-002The band returns with their first studio album in four years (Tonight, 2009).  Here’s hoping the Scottish band can get back on their debut album’s swag (Franz Ferdinand, 2004).


Elvis Costello & The Roots, Wake Up Ghost

Genre: Rock

Anticipated U.S. Release date: September 17, 2013

I know very little about this album as of yet, but who cares? Elvis Costello AND The Roots? Count me in.


TGT, Three Kings

Genre: R&B

Anticipated U.S. Release date: August 20, 2013

71SLN8s527L._SL1425_Tyrese, Ginuwine, and Tank? That’s some kind of adult contemporary R&B album!


The Civil Wars, The Civil Wars

Genre: Country / Folk

Anticipated U.S. Release date: August 6, 2013

Sophomore follow-up to the duo’s Grammy-winning Barton Hollow (Folk Album, Country Duo/Performance (“Barton Hollow”)).


Many, many more releases will be announced as the year progresses.  Here’s some other notable upcoming releases:

KT Tunstall, Invisible Empire / Crescent Moon (August 6, 2013)

Glen Campbell,  See You There (August 13, 2013)

Washed Out, Paracosm (August 13, 2013)

Allen Toussaint, Songbook August 20, 2013)

Jimmy Buffett, Songs From St. Somewhere (August 20, 2013)

Tedeschi Trucks Band, Made Up Mind (August 20, 2013)

Avenged Sevenfold, Hail to the King  (August 27, 2013)

Ashanti, BraveHeart (September 3, 2013)

Arctic Monkeys, AM (September 10, 2013)

Gloria Estefan, The Standards  (September 10, 2013)

Goldfrapp, Tales of Us  (September 10, 2013)

Billy Currington, We Are Tonight (September 17, 2013)

Chris Young, A.M. (September 17, 2013)

Jack Johnson, From Here To Now To You (September 17, 2013)

Johnny Lang, Fight For My Soul (September 17, 2013)

Placebo, Loud Like Love  (September 17, 2013)

Sting, The Last Ship (September 24, 2013)

Candice Glover, Music Speaks (TBA)