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My Best of 2011 Mix-CD

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With the lack of reviews found on this website the past 12 months, I didn't feel that I'd be serving my readers well by posting my annual list of top 15 albums. However, since I still planned on burning some mix-CDs of my favorite songs of 2011 for some close friends, I thought I could still write a few words about each of these songs.

WILL's BEST OF 2011 CD

1. "End To The Lies" by Jane's Addiction (single)
This isn't the same version which occupies the second track on The Great Escape Artist. Rather, this is the version Jane's Addiction released as a single back in April, a full six months before the new album was released. Comparing the two versions is like comparing any major label disapproved Steve Albini produced recording to the one that eventually gets cleaned up by an assigned engineer and released. For the latter version, Perry's vocals are more upfront and the drums and bass are placed in the back. Although the rest of the album is amazing, trust me, go for original version of "End To The Lies" instead. You can download it HERE.

2. "Chloe" by Ringo Deathstarr (Colour Trip)
This song reminds me of Thirteen Tales of Urban Bohemia-era Dandy Warhols, but as far as I am concerned you can never get enough of My Bloody Valentine-styled wall-of -guitar dream-pop. If you can't get enough either, download the track HERE.

3. "Sad Song" by The Cars (Move Like This)
So who knew that The Cars could write a song that sounds like The Killers, but better than The Killers? Actually, anyone over the age of 36 knew this was possible. Move Like This is not nearly the best Cars album, but it may have a shot of being in the top 5. For a record that sadly misses the far superior vocals of Benjamin Orr, Move Like This  is better than any Ric Ocasek solo album. 


4. "Ritual Union" by Little Dragon (Ritual Union EP)
Thanks to a business trip to New Orleans in March for which I spent my first night locked up in my hotel room instead of discovering Bourbon Street - and thanks to Late Night With Jimmy Fallon which played on the TV in my room, I discovered Little Dragon performing "Ritual Union" months before the EP was released here in the U.S.. As someone who doesn't watch late night talk shows I must ask; Do the music supervisors working for Mr. Fallon always find artists this far under the radar? 


5. "New Cannonball Blues" by TV On The Radio (Nine Types of Light )
The two best R&B tracks to not reach Top 40/Urban radio was released by TV On The Radio. Along with "Will Do", "New Cannonball Blues" is a track sorely missing it's new audience. Nine Types of Light proves that TV On The Radio has outgrown the indie rock scene. It's sad to think that it would take a Timbaland or a Will.I.Am to adopt TV On The Radio under their wing for the band to get their fair due. 

6. "Sister" by The Black Keys
Not among the overplayed songs from 2010 that we still heard too much of throughout 2011, "Sister" comes from the collection of brand new cuts found on the gutsy early December release El Camino. So far the LP, which undoubtedly will be among "Best of" lists next December, has spawned the song that will go down as The Black Keys' most popular ever ("Lonely Boy"). For my mix I had to choose the soulful "Sister" over dark garage rocker "Hell Of A Season" and it was a tough choice. 2011 is the year that I became a sincere Black Keys fan, and it had nothing to do with hearing "Tighten Up" for the 500th time. Check out the whole El Camino album HERE.

7. "Abducted" by Cults
Imagine the Raveonettes dropping the noise and truly accomplishing their goal of creating bittersweet retro-chic pop numbers. Vocalist Madeline Follin has some amazing pipes. Even the duets with her much flatter partner Brian Oblivion are passable, especially "Abducted", a single that overshadows their critically-acclaimed breakthrough cut "Go Outside". Get a free download of "Abducted" by joining Cults' mailing list at their official website cultscultscults.com

8. "Machine Gun Blues" by Social Distortion (Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes)
Let's face it. Mike Ness doesn't have a good voice by music scholars' standards. Neither does Bruce Springsteen or Iggy Pop. The difference is that Iggy and Bruce have more often than not been able to write songs in the proper key that fit their voice's range and character. Mike Ness hasn't been able to accomplish this since Between Heaven and Hell almost 20 years ago. That changed with "Machine Gun Blues" was first released as a single in late 2010. From what I have heard, the rest of the album isn't too far off. I don't always have sincere love for new music made by my old favorites, but "Machine Gun Blues" won me over. Check out this extended music video/gangster flick which proves Ness has great acting skills too. 

9. "I Spit Roses" by Peter Murphy (Ninth)
How often can Peter Murphy write a good Peter Murphy song? Outside of Bauhaus, a band for which I know every song in and out, I have minimal exposure to Murphy's solo career. Yet it's like almost every song that falls on my ears is as good as 1990's "Cuts You Up". Download this song for free by clicking HERE.

10. "Circulation" by Thurston Moore (Demolished Thoughts)
Thurston Moore is more than an architech of beautiful noise. The man has become one of my favorite all time singer/songwiters and "Circulation" is a testament to that. Yes, the album was produced and contributed to by Beck, but that might as well just be kept a secret because all I hear is the voice of Sonic Youth without the inteference of Kim Gordon. A free download of this song appears HERE.

11. "Some Boys (feat. Emma)" by Dom (Family of Love EP)
A fun song among better songs that I could had chosen from Dom's second EP release . Many of my mixes are made for frustrated single people. "Some Boys" is a tribute to them. Check out five of the great songs from Family of Love HERE.

12. "Heart In Your Heartbreak" by The Pains of Being Pure At Heart (Belong)
Keeping me a fan through a second album while fearing possible disappointment towards a third album. But let's not look that far. Every song from TPOBPAH drips with the level of sincerity you would expect of a band with a sincere namesake. What TPOBPAH does is a formula. Although a finicky listener like myself often finds himself immune to such chemical compositions. Not this time.

13. "Lazy Bones" by Wooden Shjips (West)
Best far out description I can think of: Kid Congo and Jimmy Lee Pierce join a psychedelic rock band during a mid-80s vacation from The Gun Club. Get this song for free by subscribing to the KEXP Song Of The Day Podcast. Or just wait until your next acid trip to search YouTube for several fan made mind-warping videos. 

14. "Rope" by Foo Fighters (Wasting Light)
I had a few rock radio guilty pleasure in 2011 and this was one of them. "Rope" barely beat out my honorable mention "I Think Bad Thoughts" by Danko Jones. The Foo Fighters are among the rare breed of relevant "arena rock" bands that are actually able to sell out said arenas. Plus they feature former members of Nirvana, The Germs, No Use For A Name and Sunny Day Real Estate. And the kick other "arena rock" bands' asses, like Nickelback. Check out the Wasting Light album HERE.

15. "Bug" by Wavves" (Life Sux EP)
It was between "Bug" and "Poor Lenore", a Weezer-ish rock athem that clocked in a little too long to be considered tongue-in-cheek. If you were a fan of last year's King of the Beach, the Life Sux EP should be considered a slight enhancement for the creators of "acid-surf" and not only for it's improved production.

16. "Forget That You're Young" by The Raveonettes (Raven In The Grave)
Perhaps the toughest challnege of my mix-CD was deciding which of four possible Raveonettes songs I was going to choose and as of November this song wasn't even in the running. I first fell in love with the album's first single "Recharge and Revolt" but thought my listeners would be turned off by it's redundancy after the first 45 seconds. "Apparations" and "Evil Seeds" are exciting numbers that almost tease the possibility that The Raveonettes are truly a retro goth-rock band at heart. "Forget That You're Young" is both fresh and true to The Raveonettes signature attempts towards mellodramatic ballads. Get this song for free by subscribing to the KEXP Song Of The Day Podcast.

17. "A Flat Ten" by Wire (Red Barked Tree)
The Cars were not the only band who were primed in the 70s and released an album of new material in 2011. Wire outdid The Cars by recalling almost every reason why they were among the best bands of the original post-punk era. No song on Red Barked Tree can hold a candle to "The 15th" or "I Am The Fly", but any one of them could had been a valid album track from the Chairs Missing/154 era. Check out Red Barked Tree HERE.

18. "Thee Ecstatic Library" by Comet Gain (Howl of the Lonely Crowd)
Not sure what drew me to buy this album on eMusic back in October , but I am guessing it was the 30 second sample of this 60s meets 90s psych-pop tune. Much of the rest of the album makes the mistake of going folky during a time when the singer performs an accidental Conor Oberst impression, thus many moments my iPod shuffled fooled me into thinking I was listening to a Bright Eyes album I never downloaded. You be the judge by hearing samples of Howl of the Lonely Crowd HERE.

19. "Kids" by Airship (single)
Not another song named "Kids" you say? Airship is "Manchester's Best Kept Secret" and they follow the sound patterns of American bands like Secret Machines rather than MGMT. It's suppose to take years for a new band to write something this catchy. 

20. "Helena Beat" by Foster The People (Foster The People EP) 
Foster The People is filling the void that MGMT left when they vacated their position as the world's greatest electro-pop band to head towards technicolor pastures. And to further extend the parallels, "Helena Beat" may be the hit single FTP will be best known for rather than "Pumped Up Kids" (much like how "Kids" is now more memorable than "Time To Pretend"). All the hip kids will tell you that they were listening to this on their satelite radio in 2010. FM commercial radio, as always, is late to the show, we know, we know. The only mistake the label made was not releasing to mass radio airplay in June. The warm and chippy rhythm of "Helena Beat" has long hot summer written all over it.

21. "To Mess With Dynamite" by Kids On A Crime Spree (We Love You So Bad)
Slumberland has once again discovered a group of young kids stuck in the wrong decade, this time from the far west coast. Kids On A Crime Spree sport themselves as a Ramones-inspired power trio heavily seduced by first wave British shoegazing dreampop. Listen to "To Mess With Dynamite" on LAST.FM

22. "Off Switch" by Bad Sports (Kings of the Weekend)
The only "real" punk album I bought in 2011. Oh, I heard that there were other good ones. And maybe they were better than this. However, I am outgrowing punk rock in such a way that I only have room for one good punk album a year. And this made the final cut...or atleast it made it's way to my satisfied ears first. Bad Sports is a band from the same Denton, TX punk scene that spawned The Riverboat Gamblers and The Marked Men. Now they are on the same raucous garage rock record label that gave the world The Briefs and The Exploding Hearts. Check out Kings of the Weekend HERE.

23. "K Is Dead" by The Father Figures (Lesson Number One)
So only one local band makes my Best of 2011 mix. The Father Figures are a power trio featuring members of Hillbilly Devilspeak, JFA, and The Voice. Bassist-turned-guitar-extraordinaire Michael Cornelius lays down some heavy Mission Of Bruma inspired chord slashing while the rhythm section of bassist/vocalist Tom Reardon and drummer Bobby Lerma are easily a less-complicated, yet still worthy facsimile of Lally/Canty. If you live in Phoenix, AZ and only have the budget to buy one local band album this year then I recommend The Father Figures debut CD from CDBABY.

24. "Dragging the Feet" by Vampire Pop Strategy (Mid Dim)
The EP was released in 2011 although some recordings have existed in their native Italy since 2006. Logistics! It's still sounds like 2011 to my ears. Although the duo explores a range of synthpunk and psychedelic rock, "Dragging The Feet" reminds me more of the quirky new wave pop pumped out by The Girls from Seattle a few years back. 


  
    
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New Destruction Unit Video

Destruction Unit started out as an explosive synth-punk band 11 years ago and has evolved into one of Arizona's most fascinating psychedelic rock bands (Peyote-Rock?). Check out their latest music video for the song "Smoke Cloud"
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Halloween Is A Great Time For Bands To Pick Up Cheap Stage Gimmicks

Priced at only $24.99 and $9.99 at Albertson's grocery store, now any band can have a smoke machine and strobe light on stage.


   
       
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Best Thing I Have Seen This Week

I'm actually not into the latest fad of making a statement by placing words with a picture, usually done by those with limited Photoshop skills. A picture may be worth a thousand words but a picture layered with 10-20 words seems to me to be worth only about 10-20 words. However, Aaron “Ump” McCollum from the Oklahoma whiskey-rock band Motortrain posted this on his Facebook page. Not sure if he is the originator, but he is the first to bring this wonderful statement to my attention.



   
       
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What Every 8 Year Old Boy In An Arcade Wants

There is an arcade at the Brunswick Bowling Alley here in Mesa, AZ. I take my son there to bowl and afterwards give him a few bucks in tokens to waste on tickets which he can cash in for cheap prizes. As oppose  to a prize booth, this arcade has a prize machine which cashes in your tickets and let's the winner pick his prize. Among the plastic fare worth no more than a few bucks, I found this:



Yes, that is a CD from country music legend George Jones. Great voice. Talented singer. I'm sure he sang his fare share of songs about cheating and drinking, too. The price? Only 350 tickets! (Most prizes are valued at 1 cent per ticket).

Now, if I could only could find someone who runs stocks these machines so I can sneak a Scorpion Vs. Tarantula or Green Lady Killers CD in.
   
       
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Let's Not Forget What Happened The Last Time Lou Reed Collaborated With A Hard Rock Band



Need I Say More?

   
       
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Fun With Music Choice

Music Choice is a radio provider, much like Sirius/XM, which is carried by various cable television companies across the country. Here in Phoenix, Arizona where Cox Communications is the top provider of cable TV, Music Choice can be found between the channels of 901 and 945. Each channel caters to a specific genre or demographic while supplying a wide rotation of music that is similar to stations found on Sirius/XM. The "Metal" station, in fact,  plays some of the hardest hitting metal available (grind, death metal, etc).

My favorite is "Classic Alternative" which plays everything from 70s post-punk, 80s college rock, 90s grunge, and everything in between.

One difference between Music Choice and satellite radio is that the former rarely features a live DJ narrating the playlist. However, because the music is streamed through your television, pictures with facts and trivia about the band are broadcasted while the songs are playing. Ofcourse, if you are enjoying Music Choice, you are probably multitasking rather than staring at the TV.

Lately I have been finding some humor in what I see during the few times I do glance at the visuals from the Music Choice stations. Here are some snapshots taken on my cellphone from the last few months.

This one shows that Music Choice has a sense of humor as this song was played on May 21, 2011 - the same day American Christian Radio predicted that the Rapture would start.
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Apparently Music Choice needs a fact checker as "Rock The Casbah" did not come out in 1977, rather  it was released in 1982. And "Train In Vain" was released in 1979.  Usually a mistake like this will happen with a later date attached because of a compilaition that the song appears on. I have never seen one listed earlier until now. 
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The pictures below are not of the band Oasis. Music Choice will post stock footage of various images relating to a music style if they do not have any images of the actual band stored in their databases. This is odd in a case like this. Uh...so Music Choice has absolutely no images of the most successful brit-pop band of the 90s?
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Wow, Morrissey is looking old. I have seen this happen too many times when Music Choice uses recent photos to compliment classic rock songs. As a warning, the Billy Idol and Nick Lowe songs have the absolute worst "aging rock star" images. I know, I know, people get old. I'm getting old. However, when Music Choice plays the hits of yesteryear, we want them to flash images of how we want to remember the artists - not what they looked like at their latest casino or state fair gig.
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Now, I'm a huge Cheap Trick fan. However, when have they ever been considered "Alternative"? Okay, I admit that the first Cheap Trick album from 1977 qualifies as some of the best proto-new wave music around. But by the time Standing On The Edge was released in 1985, Cheap Trick were a well celebrated middle-of-the-road rock band.
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Is it Music Choice's policy that when a band features a set of identical twins that only one twin is needed in a band photo?
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Purple Rain and Ocean Water

I came up with two new drink recipes over the summer. 

First, back in May (summer starts in May here in AZ), Hollywood Alley in Mesa started a Thursday 80s night, so I created a special drink in tribute utilizing one of the new flavored rums that were being introduced. I named the drink Purple Rain.

Purple Rain:
1 oz. of mango flavored rum
1/2 oz of blue curacoa
pour both over a pint glass filled with ice
top off with cranberry juice
give it a quick shake to blend the colors well so it turns out purple.

During a visit to my local Sonic, I decided to try their Ocean Water, which is just lemon-lime soda with blue colored coconut flavored syrup added . Seems fairly easy (and obvious) to emulate. You can now offer your guests the same type of refreshing drink. I've noticed that lemon-lime soda seems to be a more refreshing option than cola or even sugary juices when it comes to cocktails, so why not do something both different and refreshing.

Ocean Water:
1 oz of Malibu or any other coconut flavored rum
1/2 oz of blue curacoa
pour both over a pint glass filled with ice
top off with cranberry juice

   
       
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Dead Rocker On The Charts

http://www.billboard.com/news/amy-winehouse-s-back-to-black-re-enters-1005293782.story

Amy Winehouse had the #1 downloaded album this past week, an album that was released 5 years ago - and is in the top ten in overall sales. To quote Cookie from the movie RocknRolla "You see, Johnny the Crackhead knows that a rocker is worth more dead than alive, silly world isn't it?"
   
       
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Random Video: Foo Fighters "Walk"

I guess Dave Grohl never learned to fly, so instead he is learning to walk again. All kidding aside, Grohl is Gold in this video. Great acting skills.

   
       
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