Consumed Summer

Well, Labor Day is in the rear view mirror, football season has started and the hot coffee to iced coffee ratio is starting to go up. Even though Autumn doesn’t officially start until next week, it sure has felt like it for a while now. I’m sure that has more to do with the terrible weather we have had since August — I think last Saturday was the first day I had the top down on the Jeep since early-to-mid August — than the rapid fall from the playoff chase of the Sox, but I have been anxious for the Fall as it is my favorite season of the year. However, before I go on about that, I thought it would be nice to do a wrap-up of Summer consumables like music, movies, sports and whatever else that sticks out. For the sake of most things, I am going to go with the unofficial dates of Summer and say it starts Memorial Day weekend and ends Labor Day weekend (when it comes to movies, the studios want you to believe Summer starts May 1st). Anyway, between that time I consumed 29 discs and half of them stand out in my mind for different reasons. Five for being incredibly kick ass, five for being really good and five or sucking ass or being plain disappointing. The album links are for iTunes if you want to check them out. Five that kick ass

  1. St. Elsewhere coverGnarls Barkley :: St. Elsewhere I already wrote about this album in The Block is Hot, but it bears repeating that this is an excellent, incredible disc. I don’t know that I could put enough superlative adjectives to accurately describe how good this sucker is. Not only can I still not stop listening to it constantly, but it will forever resonate as one of the best Summer discs of all time for me. It is right up there with STP’s Purple and the Beastie Boys’ Ill Communication from the Summer of 1994. The Fenway Park organist even played “Crazy” at the last Sox game I attended. That, along with “Blackbird” for the Grackle, moves Dr. Charles up a couple notches. Go buy or borrow this disc immediately.
  2. decemberunderground coverAFI :: decemberunderground What I just wrote about St. Elsewhere is true for decemberunderground. While AFI’s last disc, Sing the Sorrow, was also excellent, this one definitely one-up’d it. The radio version of “Miss Murder” does suck though. My guess is they are making it more mainstreamish for the masses that are afraid of Goth. The album version is much better and you don’t have to dig on goth to dig on it. Buy this only after buying Gnarls.
  3. Black Holes and Revelations coverMuse :: Black Holes and Revelations Do I have to say it again? Dido…err, ditto on this for what I said before. Once again, another excellent disc that surpasses its predecessor, in this case, Absolution. It’s funny, when this came out I was reluctant to pick it up even though “Knights of Cydonia” is great and getting heavy play. I remember Absolution being good, but didn’t remember it being great as I had not listened to it in some time, like probably two years. So, I gave in and checked the previews out on iTunes and decided I should give it a shot. Man, it doesn’t do the previews justice. It also had the side effect of helping me rediscover Absolution (which is actually playing right now as I type this). There’s something on this disc for everyone, so check it out. If you like Coldplay or any other Brit band like them, Muse kicks their asses.
  4. Nightcrawler coverPete Yorn :: Nightcrawler Big time Pete Yorn fan here, so I was very excited for Pete to finally put out a new disc; it was just too bad I had to wait until the end of Summer for it to drop. Well, it did and it is excellent. Probably not quite as good as musicforthemorningafter, but a bit better than Day I Forgot. I’d say he is maturing as an artist, but I might be ripping off a review I read. Put it this way, it has been out two weeks and I have listened to it 14 times (not yet today), so that’s an average of once a day. There’s a reason why Pete Yorn is storming up my Overall chart on and this is it.
  5. Lemonade coverG. Love :: Lemonade A very tough pick for number five here. I was wavering between As Fast As or G., so I went with the more recent release and the definite Summer flavor. Like Pete Yorn, this disc made me rediscover my G. Love — with or without Special Sauce — catalog. I think this second solo effort is much better than 2004’s The Hustle. G. Love is so much cooler than “Cold Beverage.”

Five that almost kick an ass

  1. Open Letter to the Damned coverAs Fast As :: Open Letter to the Damned I just as easily could have done a list of ten, but I like the break up by five (you may have noticed it is a theme in this blog). As I said above, this just missed the end of the last list. This band blew up on FNX this Summer and they are out of Portland Maine, so who never said something good can’t come out of Maine besides lobstahs (not that I am a fan)? “Florida Sunshine” has been getting heavy rotation all Summer and it screams “Summer tune.”
  2. Under the Iron Sea coverKeane :: Under the Iron Sea Their lead singer may have spent the latter part of the Summer in rehab, thus canceling their tour, but this disc continues to impress. I like Hopes and Fears a bit more, but this is a good sophomore effort. This is another one where if you like Coldplay, you’ll probably like Keane.
  3. Rise and Fall... coverButch Walker :: The Rise and Fall of Butch Walker and the Let’s-Go-Out-Tonites An album title almost as long as your average Fall Out Boy or Panic! At the Disco song title. This is the third solo album from Walker and it is his third change of pace. To me, he’s trying to do something different on each album and while I think his last disc, Letters, is his best, this one is growing on me. I like it more than Left of Self-Centered, but while Letters seemed to be a progression from it, Rise and Fall seems to go in a different, unrelated direction, which isn’t a bad thing. I think my expectations were different and I am still adjusting, but this is a good disc.
  4. Crushing Love coverSome Girls :: Crushing Love This disc was unexpected as I assumed the Some Girls was a one-off project for Juliana Hatfield, but happily this disc appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Seems to be a more polished effort than their first and Juliana isn’t always at the forefront in every song, so it offers some change of pace. I haven’t ripped the first disc to iTunes/iPod and compared, so I am going off memory here, but I like this one better than it. I’ll get around to it…
  5. Out Here All Night coverDamone :: Out Here All Night I almost feel guilty having this disc here, but technically it did drop in CD form at the very end of May, so it is within my guidelines. I originally picked it up on iTunes a month earlier for a sick low price of six bucks or something in a pre-release the band was running. Of course, I did pick up the disc when it dropped too because I like the hard copy. Anyway, Damone are another local product and this is their sophomore album. Not to take anything away from their debut, but this disc is yet another more polished effort. Whether you want to call it Power Pop like As Fast As or just old fashioned Rock, it is just good stuff.

Five that suck ass

  1. Stadium Arcadium coverRed Hot Chili Peppers :: Stadium Arcadium You can pretend this is in reverse order if you want, but one means it sucks the most suck. This dubious distinction goes to the Chilis and it saddens me greatly to write that. I had high hopes for this disc, but it suffers from being a double album in which almost every song sounds similar enough to its brothers, it ends up flowing on way too long without any song being distinctive. iTunes tells me I have spun this thing six times. I tried to let it grow on me, but it just won’t. I think there are probably some good tunes here, I just can’t filter them out. I’m being harsh, but it is what I am feeling right now.
  2. Songs from Black Mountain coverLive :: Songs from Black Mountain I reluctantly picked this up because the ultimate Live fan, Joe, recommended it as he had been *previewing* it prior to release. I remembered their last release — I can’t even remember the name — being lackluster and thought maybe they turned it around. Bzzt! Wrong! Totally sucks my ass. I should put this one before RHCP, but my disappointment with them won’t allow it. This one was an unplanned suck, so while it is a waste of cake, at least I didn’t take an emotional hit. This band never gets another cent from me. I’m done.
  3. Ganging Up on the Sun coverGuster :: Ganging Up on the Sun Yeah, for a gang bang of suck maybe. I heard prior to release it would be a slight departure from previous efforts. I didn’t buy their previous disc because they were getting a little tired. I figured maybe it would be a good thing to change it up a bit and the first single wasn’t bad. Unfortunately, this isn’t what I was expecting and like Live, this band never gets another penny. Give me something that is good, and free, and I’ll reconsider.
  4. In With the Out Crowd coverLess Than Jake :: In With the Out Crowd I don’t know, with this they may no longer even be in with the out crowd. I think the out crowd is as disappointed as I am. They’ll never be as good as Hello Rockview again, but they got darn close with Borders & Boundaries. Even their previous disc, Anthem, was good, but I have either outgrown their sound or they started sucking. Oh, and can they make it thru one disc without redoing a past tune from a past disc? Like George Lucas these freakin guys…
  5. The Eraser coverThom Yorke :: The Eraser Dude, if you are going to do a solo album, then do a solo album. I don’t know where Radiohead ends and Yorke begins. I don’t see any effort here to distance the lyrics, the sound, the music or the style from Radiohead. This makes number five only because I’m forgiving him slightly as this caused me to rip my Radiohead catalog and listen for comparison. This disc might actually be a better Radiohead effort than Amnesiac or Kid A, and that’s saying a lot. Not to turn this into a Radiohead thing, but I thought Hail to the Thief redeemed them after those previous two efforts, but nothing has been close to The Bends or OK Computer which stand hand-in-hand as my favorites. Note to all lead singers everywhere; don’t do a freakin solo disc while your band is still together because you won’t get it right. I’m looking at you too Dave Matthews.

And that kids, is the Summer of 2006 in music for me. Panic and Ok Go (helped by a sick video for “Here it Goes Again” on YouTube or VH1) have been getting a lot of play over the Summer too even though those discs have been out a while. Both are excellent and you would do well to check them out. I even heard Panic on Kiss 108 while getting my hair chopped in Supercuts one day. That scared me more than the chick with the scissors to my noggin. Damn, this is a lot longer than I intended, so I think I will keep the film, sports and other schtuff recap for the next post. Look for it by Friday. In the meantime, hit up iTunes or Newbury Comics for something to listen to! BTW – Now 15 times for Nightcrawler!