It goes without saying that I am one of those people that considers himself a Monkees fanatic. I have every album in various deluxe editions that have been released over the years. On lesser albums I’ve sifted through the filler to find the gems (there are not too many lesser albums though.) John Lennon may be one of my musical idols, but sometimes I just prefer to listen to The Monkees over The Beatles. Those late 60’s albums by the “Prefab Four” stand up to anything their peers were putting out at the time. Live, I’ve never seen all 4 at the same time. In 1997 I saw Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, and Peter Tork in Valley Forge, PA for the Justus tour. In 2012 I saw Micky Dolenz solo at a small casino just weeks after Davy Jones passed away. And in 2013 I saw Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork in downtown Seattle. All shows were memorable and expertly performed – the band members have come a long way from their origins as a make-believe band put together for a television show. A few months ago it was announced that The Monkees would be releasing a new album for their 50th anniversary. I wondered – would this be like The Beach Boys album from a few years ago (I can’t remember anything from that one) or would it be something special? The fact that the project was being produced by Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger gave me hope – I love Fountains of Wayne’s unique power pop perspective.
Another year gone by, another year in music to review. For me personally, it was a strange year in music. I found myself listening to unsigned / self released artists more often than some of the mainstream artists that I love so much. 2 Neil Young records – the 1st was good, if not great. The 2nd was a little too lush for my tastes. Neither appear on my year-end round-up. I looked forward to the new John Mellencamp (yes, seriously) but I came away only loving about half the record. Bruce Springsteen added Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine to his band and the record he released didn’t disappoint me. I managed to get out to a few shows in 2014 and was blown away by Mudhoney (twice) and First Aid Kit. Speaking of First Aid Kit, their Stay Gold record grew in stature with repeated listens and should help them become a household name. So without further rambling, here are the records that I played the most in 2014. Note: these are listed randomly and I chose to focus on full length releases that were released in 2014.
The post Nirvana music world left a wasteland of burned out one hit wonder alternative rockers. Weezer didn’t fit that mold, thankfully. Their 1994 debut album was an almost instant hit (over 3 million copies sold to date) that straddled the line between straight up Rock n Roll and what was called at the time Alternative Rock. It also launched an endless, tiresome debate that is now almost 2 decades old. Following 1996’s beloved Pinkerton (which some consider a landmark album in the Emo movement), Weezer seemingly turned their backs on confessional alternative rock and started delivering up less emotional power pop rock – a trend that has mostly continued to this day. What is mainstream music? What is hip? Weezer has been considered both at times, and has also had some silly hatred thrown their way over the years from the hip crowd who moan with each release “but…but…it isn’t Pinkerton!”. Honestly – every Weezer album has songs that I really like and songs that I skip (yes, those early records too). If the band has had a weakness in the past, it is the inclination to get as many songs out in lieu of a cohesive listening experience. So how does the new record, Everything Will Be Alright In The End, stack up? It is a glorious record – a perfect storm of strong material and smart editing choices.
When we last heard from Cable35 they had just released their debut album, Louder, and were based out of Malta (for those who don’t know, Malta is an island nation in the Mediterranean and is also one of the most densely populated nations in the world). My what a difference a year or so makes. A year ago I was celebrating my 6th annual 29th birthday and now my 7th annual is fast approaching. For Cable35, they have a slightly less geeky perspective – they relocated to Sheffield, England to bring their sound to the masses (or at least – people hip to the music). The band still consists of Jeff on guitar / vox, Kriz on bass / vox, and Chris on drums. The upcoming EP by the band is called Fungus and it expands on the sounds of the debut whilst also offering up a looser vibe.