Great Music #26: International Women’s Day Edition

Hello there, my friends! Welcome back to “Great Music”, the series where I talk about songs I like. The series that has been dead since… *Checks blog*… July 2017, holy shit. Well, now we’re back. And this is a special one. Because I am writing this on the International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate half the world’s population, a day to celebrate those amazing females in our lives and all over the world. And I decided to do that by doing a post about some great songs by female musicians. Now, this isn’t a top ten or something like that, it’s just a selection of various songs sung/performed by women. No rankings… just good music. So let’s have a listen at these awesome women and their songs.

Song number 1: Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – I Love Rock n Roll.

You know how I said these weren’t ranked? Well, I sort of lied. And by that I mean that this is my favorite song picked out for this list. I won’t rank all the songs… just putting my favorite of them all first. Now that we’ve gotten that disclaimer out of the way, let’s talk about this song. Originally recorded by The Arrows in 1975, this song was popularized by Joan Jett in 1982. Not long after Jett’s previous band, The Runaways, split up, she went and formed her own band (Joan Jett & The Blackhearts). They went on to become quite successful, properly starting this good run in 1982 with their awesome cover of “I Love Rock n Roll”. I don’t think I need to explain this choice, as anyone that’s heard the song would understand why it’s so good. But I’ll just say that it’s a cover that surpasses the original thanks to the badass attitude of Joan Jett. It’s an awesome song.

Song number 2: Alannah Myles – Black Velvet.

Next up is “Black Velvet”, a song from the eponymous debut album of Canadian singer Alannah Myles. What we have here is a song that is heavily steeped in blues-rock, but with just a tinge of pop, giving it a really cool sound that is complemented by Myles’ stunning vocals. It’s one of the coolest songs I’ve ever heard and it’s one I highly recommend.

Song number 3: Fleetwood Mac – Dreams.

Now, while Fleetwood Mac is made up of 60% male members, there’s no denying that it’s female members, Stevie Nicks & Christine McVie, contribute a ton to the band. And “Dreams” is a very big showcase for that. Written and sung by Nicks, this song is one of two songs from Fleetwood Mac’s amazing “Rumours” album that is about the breakup of Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham (the other one being “Go Your Own Way”). And this is a fantastic song with some of the most beautiful vocals I’ve ever heard.

Song number 4: Samantha Fish – Blood in the Water.

Followers of mine with a good memory might remember that this isn’t the first time that Samantha Fish (and this song) has appeared on this blog. She also appeared on my favorite albums of 2017 list (TWICE!). And this is the song that I used as sample for the list. She has a good amount of great songs, but this is one that has just stuck with me. Plus, it’s one of the few I know that I could find a good, not live, youtube vid for. But yeah, this is a great song. Fish is a blues singer with some really great and surprisingly diverse tracks in her discography. Taking some inspiration from country and even a little bit of folk music in this song, she creates a really cool sound with some interesting lyrics. Highly recommend this song and the rest of her discography.

Song number 5: First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar.

Here comes a band that comes from the same country as me. First Aid Kit is a Swedish folk/country/rock/pop/something band that I love. They have such a unique and awesome sound that has made them insanely popular. From their stunning harmonies, to the solo vocals, to the instrumentals, their music is just fantastic. And “The Lion’s Roar” is one of their best.

Song Number 6: Garbage – The World is Not Enough.

This band is Garbage. You may now reluctantly laugh. Jokes aside, this song is great, and I honestly can’t think of any artist being able to do it as well as they did. Led by Shirley Manson, Garbage is an alternative/rock band form the 90s that I have mixed feelings about (some good songs, some less than stellar ones). But I can safely say that “The World Is Not Enough”, the title track from one of Brosnan’s “Bond” movies, is one of their best. From the pseudo-electronica instrumentals, to Manson’s vocals, this is an absolutely stunning song and one of my favorite “Bond” themes.

Song number 7: Sandi Thom – I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker.

This really takes me back. I first heard it on the radio around 2006, and it has just sort of stuck with me since then. This is a song with some social commentary in it’s lyrics, but none of it is overbearing. And even if you don’t care about the lyrics themselves, you can still appreciate Thom’s fantastic vocals, combined with the mainly acoustic instrumentals. Recently she’s taken a slightly more blues-y approach (which I love), but I think this pop/folk tune is the one she will be most known for, and I am completely okay with that. Because this is a beautiful song.

Song number 8: Vera Lynn – We’ll Meet Again.

Can’t forget the classics. Very well known for it’s use in “Doctor Strangelove”, this song by English singer Vera Lynn is one of the most well known songs of the 20th century (and probably of all time). Taking a very optimistic approach, this song warmed the hearts of many during some tough times during the last century. And who wouldn’t get happy after listening to this song. It’s one of those that I can’t help but smile at when I hear it… and I’d assume that you readers might be the same.

Song number 9: Pink – Fuckin’ Perfect.

I’ve kept my swearing under control pretty well so far during this post. So I’m jsut gonna take this opportunity to say fucking-fuckity-fuck. Now, “Fuckin’ Perfect” is one of my favorite songs. I’m a fan of Pink in general, she’s one of my favorite artists of all time, and this song might be her best. The song is about a woman who goes through a tough and kind of horrible life, only to come out on the other side a much stronger person. It is inspiring, and it features some gorgeous vocals from Pink, and some of the best instrumentals on any of her songs. And to any potential prudes out there… there is a version of the song with no F-bombs in it, but I don’t think it’s as powerful as this version. This song is fucking perfect.

Song number 10: Amy Winehouse – Back to Black.

A song about sadness and going back to one’s old ways, from a musician who was taken from us way too soon? Oh my. That’s right, the tenth song on this list is Amy Winehouse’s (R.I.P) “Back to Black”. A haunting yet still catchy tune with some great lyrics, Winehouse’s stunning voice, and one of the catchiest piano hooks I’ve ever heard. This song is tragic, especially when you look at what happened to Winehouse later in her career. An amazing song from an amazing artist.

Song number 11: Adele – Skyfall.

Could any list of great female artists really be complete without Adele? And it’s another “Bond” theme? It was between this and “Rolling in the Deep” for me. But I went with this because I’m a sucker for these kinds of ballads. I haven’t seen “Skyfall” yet, but this song is one of the main reasons why I actually might check it out soon.

Song number 12: Annie Lennox – Into the West.

Another movie song? Yes, but that’s just how it goes sometimes. And Annie Lennox is amazing, so shut up. Also, “Lord of the Rings”. This is the song used at the end of “Return of the King”, the culmination of that trilogy of films. The epic finale to the masterful trilogy. It’s my favorite of the series. And this song is a fitting end theme for it all. Emotional, sweeping, beautiful… it’s simply amazing. Lennox’s vocals here fucking amazing. Yes, “Sweet Dreams” is also great, but this is a better showcase of Lennox, in my opinion. I almost get teary-eyed when I listen to this song.

And that’s the end of my list. Of course there are many many many more awesome female artists out there, but I don’t have the time to make a list featuring a million songs here. So if you have any further suggestions, leave them in the comments. Some of your favorite female artists/bands/songs, leave them in the comments.
Have a good one.

My Top 20 Favorite Albums of 2017

Ladies and gentlemen, it is once again time for me to ramble on about music. To be more specific, it’s time to once again talk about my favorite albums of the recently ended year. 2017 as a year in general wasn’t great. Terror attacks, a less than desirable person becomes president of the United States, people die, people turn out to be sexually assaulting scumbags… there’s been a fuckload of horrible stuff happening in the year. But it has had some bright spots. Mainly in the world of entertainment. We’ve seen some great movies, shows, and games be released over the year. And the topic we’re talking about today is of course no exception to that. So now we’re here to talk about my favorites of the year. Now, there will of course be albums that I missed out on and might discover at a later date, but I don’t exactly have the time or patience to go through every album released just for the sake of this list. So let’s get into it. Some rules first.

Rule #1: This is my list. If you don’t agree with it, then you shouldn’t complain about it. Go make your own damn list. These are my choices.

Rule #2: I will not include any soundtracks/original scores here. This list is all about the albums put out by various bands/artists during the year. So you won’t really see “Baby Driver” or “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” or “Blade Runner 2049” on this list.

Rule #3: Only full-on albums. No EP’s or singles. The only reason why I’m including this rule is because an EP is technically not an album… it’s more like multiple singles. Like a taste of an album. So while I loved Greta Van Fleet’s “From the Fires”, it will not make an appearance on this list. But I do recommend it… it’s awesome.

Rule #4: No live concert albums. Those are not normal album releases. And they often contain older songs from the artists as well. Live concert albums are cool, but they won’t be on this list.

That should cover it. Here we go. These are my top 20 albums of 2017.

Number 20: Pink – Beautiful Trauma (Sample: What About Us)

The first entry on this list is the latest from pop singer Pink. I’m a huge fan of Pink and her music, which might come as a surprised to some of you due to my heavily publicized love of rock and metal. But I do like her. Out of all the mainstream pop artists out there these days, she somehow manages to appeal to me. Maybe it’s the devil-may-care attitude she portrays at times, maybe it’s that voice of hers, maybe it’s the lyrics, maybe it’s the structure of the songs… or maybe it’s a blend of all. And while this isn’t her greatest outing, it’s still a damn fine album.

Number 19: Queens of the Stone Age – Villains (Sample: The Way You Used To Do)

Number 19 is the seventh album from modern-ish rock band Queens of the Stone Age. And it’s good. Not much else I can say about it. It’s another Queens of the Stone Age album. Has distorted guitars, interesting vocals… it’s the stuff you can expect from these guys. It’s a good album. NEXT!

Number 18: Alice Cooper – Paranormal (Sample: Paranoiac Personality)

In this spot we have the newest album from legendary rock artist Alice Cooper. There are fast songs, there are songs with creepy things in them, there’s fun to be had… basically it’s Alice Cooper doing old school Alice Cooper with enough tweaks to make it stand out a little bit. I like Alice Cooper. Which means I like this. It’s a good album. Good ol’ fashioned rock a la Cooper.

Number 17: Neil Young & Promise of the Real – The Visitor (Sample: Already Great)

Neil Young. Musician. Legend. Canadian. In this album we see him collaborating with American rock band Promise of the Real to bring us a cool, ear-pleasing album filled with social commentary. Hell, the sample track I used for this is a jab at Trump’s “Make America Great Again”. It’s a timely album and another solid entry from one of the greatest musicians of all time.

Number 16: Robert Finley – Goin’ Platinum! (Sample: Get It While You Can)

The number 16 spot goes to the newest release from blues/soul singer Robert Finley. It’s a really cool album that shows how you’re never too old to release a fun and asskicking album. Sure, that was more the point of his previous album “Age Don’t Mean a Thing”, but I think it could apply to his newest album as well. It’s filled with fun tunes drenched in old school blues and soul, giving it a unique vibe that you never really hear these days. And that voice of his is just so cool. ’tis a damn good album

Number 15: Samantha Fish – Chills & Fever (Sample: Chills & Fever)

At number 15 we have an album from female blues musician Samantha Fish. Admittedly it is less blues-heavy than her previous albums, leaning more on soul and jazz. But it still kind of works, since the songs are still catchy and a lot of fun to listen to. And we do get some of her guitar playing on the album. She also has a really cool voice that I just love listening to.

Number 14: Gotthard – Silver (Sample: Tequila Symphony No. 5)

Here we have the latest release from Swiss hard rock band Gotthard. And while they don’t do anything outside of their comfort zone, what they do here is still great. Instead of being jacks of all trades, they aim to instead focus on one thing they’re good at and just do that. And I love that about this album… it’s just Gotthard being Gotthard. It’s great.

Number 13: Deep Purple – inFinite (Sample: Time For Bedlam)

From the band behind “Smoke on the Water”, “Highway Star”, “Perfect Strangers”, and many more classics comes a new hard rock album… and it’s good. These old men still got it. It’s definitely not the band’s best album (“Machine Head” still holds that crown), but it’s still a good return to form for them. It’s a good rock album.

Number 12: Otis Taylor – Fantasizing About Being Black (Sample: Twelve String Mile)

At number 12 we have the latest from blues musician Otis Taylor. It’s a very raw album with some cool and damn interesting tracks. Combine that with Taylor’s voice and you get some damn fine music. It’s about some serious and interesting subjects, mainly civil rights and such. And hearing those things sung by this voice makes it almost heartbreaking without actually feeling too emotional or pander-y. It’s a damn good album.

Number 11: Sons of Apollo – Psychotic Symphony (Sample: Signs of the Time)

Halfway through the list and we’re talking a look at the debut album from American supergroup Sons of Apollo. Consisting of people who’ve played with/in/for all kinds of cool artists/bands, this supergroup is based heavily in prog-metal, and it’s honestly pretty awesome. It’s heavy, but it never loses sight of melody or meaning. It’s actually quite impressive. But I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised when you have that kinds of cool lineup.

Number 10: Body Count – Bloodlust (Sample: No Lives Matter)

Starting the top half of this list is the latest album from rap-metal band Body Count, led by rapper/actor Ice-T (Yes, really). When I first heard about them around mid-2017 I had a hard time believing it and even kind of laughed at it. But then I looked them up and listened to their songs (this album in particular)… and I really like them. While this kind of music seems like it would only be about killing people and such, that isn’t quite it. They have shit to say about society and the law and other such things. They’re like a modern equivalent to Rage Against the Machine (which is ironic considering Prophets of Rage exists). But they talk a lot about how people (especially black people) get totally fucked over in society. And it’s true, it does happen. And this album explores such themes very well. That said, they also have a cover of Slayer’s “Raining Blood” which I think they included just for fun.

Number 9: Samantha Fish – Belle of the West (Sample: Blood in the Water)

Surprise, an artist appeared twice on this list! Not gonna lie, I’m kind of surprised as well since most artists tend to only release one solo album at a time. But in 2017 Fish was very active. First “Chills & Fever”, then some touring, then “Belle of the West”. And this is definitely a more blues-y album than “Chills & Fever”, but it also takes a couple cues from country/western. And it’s a damn cool album. I really dig it.

Number 8: Kasey Chambers – Dragonfly (Sample: Ain’t No Little Girl)

The number 8 spot goes to Australian country/pop singer Kasey Chambers. The album is a ride that will take you through several emotions. You won’t necessarily feel all of them, but they are all part of the songs. It has a decent amount of themes going through it, and the instruments combined with Kasey’s amazing voice makes for a great album.

Number 7: Rise Against – Wolves (Sample: House on Fire)

At number 7 we have the latest from punk/rock/metal band Rise Against, a band that always has deeper meaning behind their songs. I’ve been a big fan of them for years, and while it’s not their best album, “Wolves” still didn’t disappoint. It’s another awesome album filled with great instrumentals, engaging lyrics, and Tim McIlrath’s awesome voice. It’s a great album.

Number 6: Blacktop Mojo – Burn the Ships (Sample: Dream On)

At number 6 we have an album from a hard rock band that I had never heard about until late 2017. I was just cruising around youtube, listening to music. Then I saw this cover of “Dream On” in my suggestions and I clicked it and I loved it. So I decided to check the band out which led to this album and I love it. It’s great. It’s exactly what I want in a good hard rock album. Great instrumentals, great vocals, interesting structure… it’s just really cool.

Number 5: Trombone Shorty – Parking Lot Symphony (Sample: It Ain’t No Use)

We’re in the top 5 now. And kicking this part off is this great fucking album from Trombone Shorty. It’s a cool album that takes a whole bunch of genres and uses them to make great songs. There’s hip hop, jazz, soul, R’n’B, and more. All while you have some nice brass going through it all. And it’s just one of the coolest and most unique albums of 2017 in that way. It’s just got so much energy and style that I can’t help but kind of love it.

Number 4: Brad Paisley – Love and War (Sample: Love and War)

At number 4 we find the latest album from country artist Brad Paisley, AKA my favorite country artist. And on this he sings about love, parties, soldiers not necessarily being treated as well as they should… yeah, it’s a great album. And the overall quality would probably not matter much in the long run as I would’ve put it on this list purely because of my love for Paisley. But since it is as great as it is, I could happily put it high up on the list without any “guilt”. It’s also cool to have a bunch of other famous artists featured in various tracks throughout the album, such as John Fogerty and Mick Jagger. It’s another win for Paisley.

Number 3: Robert Plant – Carry Fire (Sample: Carry Fire)

On third place on this list we find the newest solo album from former Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant. And here you won’t find any of his classic rock n roll antics, oh no. This is a much more reserved Plant. Not saying it’s as reserved and laid back as Mojave 3, but it’s quite reserved compared to his old Zeppelin days. This is a Plant that has taken musical inspiration from several different cultures in this world to combine them and create some really memorable and fantastic songs. This is truly a fantastic album

Number 2: Styx – The Mission (Sample: Gone Gone Gone)

On the penultimate spot we find the latest release from ye olde rock band Styx. And while some of their older stuff could be hit or miss, with entire albums being kind of inconsistent, this is an album that I find myself listening to quite often. While not the most complex album in the world, it’s still a lot of fun to listen to. And it’s also fun to hear that Styx still got it, almost even being better than ever. I also love the space travel concept of the album. I love space and they made some exciting songs about it.

NUMBER 1: Neil Young – Hitchhiker (Sample: Hitchhiker)

Taking the top spot on this list is “Hitchhiker”, the newest solo album from Neil Young. Not only is the album fucking masterful, containing some emotionally charged songs, but it also has an interesting story to it. This was originally recorded in 1976, but for some reason was never released… until 2017. So in some ways I could technically be cheating since it was made in the 70s. But my counterargument is that is wasn’t actually released until 2017. So it’s a 2017 album. And it’s amazing. And that’s why it’s my favorite album of 2017.

So those were my favorite albums of 2017. Now I’d like to hear from you. Did you have any favorite albums from the year that I didn’t mention here? Did you like any of the ones I mentioned? I’d really like to hear what you guys think.
Have a good one.