Tag: lady gaga

my favorite albums of 2013… finally

I know, I know, I know. For whatever reason, being a nurse has turned me into a bad blogger; honestly, I deal with so much at work, that I don’t really want to deal with doing much on my days off other than just relax. That being said, I have wanted to write this post for nearly 5 months now, and goddammit, I am going to do it. I made a promise to the few of you that still read this old blog, and I promised myself. There were some AMAZING albums released last year, and I wouldn’t feel right not sharing my love for them, like I’ve been doing for several years. So… while this may be late, and it may be way overdue, at least it’s here now… finally.

Just like in 2011, there were two albums that I simply could not get enough of, and honestly those two were so far and above everything else; with one exception… each other! It should be no secret at this point that I LOVE LOVE LOVE both Sara Bareilles and City and Colour; they are both two of my most favorite artists, and last year, they both released amazing albums within about a month of one another.

1. (tie) Sara Bareilles – The Blessed Unrest
Sara’s incredible third full length album did not disappoint. Seeing her live just before this album was released was a real treat; and it turned out to be the show that was recorded for the live album release later that year (the one that I was featured as a photographer on, nonetheless!). She only sang a few new songs, but man, they really built up my expectations for the new release; and per usual, I was not disappointed. Sara has this quality that I think a lot of artists wish they had; she can capture her thoughts, feelings, disappointments, triumphs, frustrations, and most of all, love all within a song. She can transform a thought into a feeling, and turn that feeling into a beautiful piece of music that makes you feel what she wanted you to feel; it takes you right to where she is in that moment. I love that the first song she released from this album, the penultimate Brave, was an ode to her dear gay friend, in hopes that she could help him be brave, and he could come out to his family. This is such a supportive anthem that I really resonate with, and one that is miles beyond a simply catchy chorus and beat. Sara has crafted another beautiful album without a single misstep, and it is apparently getting her more and more attention; it was, after all, nominated for album of the year at the Grammy’s. While she didn’t win, I definitely thought it was the best one of the bunch, and I am appreciative of her talent that she continues to share with us. Song Highlights: Brave, Manhattan, Satellite Call, Islands, December.

1. (tie) City and Colour – The Hurry and The Harm
Just like Sara, City and Colour is an artist that once I heard him for the first time, I knew I was hooked on something amazing. Dallas Green, aka City and Colour, is definitely an old soul. He is so evocative in his song writing, and so prolific in his musicality, that there is no doubt in my mind that he has been through a few life times; even if only through hardship, love, and loss during this one. He writes music that is so emotion-filled, and beautiful, that I honestly get choked up during many of his songs. He weaves this imagery that makes me feel his music, and makes it an experience, rather than just listening to something catchy or beautiful. There are song that he has on this album, just like on his previous three, that I turn on, turn up, close my eyes, and just feel. When he released the first song from the album, Of Space and Time, I was elated. I was not only in love with this amazing track, but I was once again blown away at how someone could be this talented; he continues to up the game at each turn. The entire album followed suit, and while it is a bit more “polished” than his first albums, I think the raw nature of his craft is front and center. Dallas, please keep making such amazing and beautiful music; I know there are many fans like myself will follow you to the end of time. Song Highlights: Of Space and Time, Harder Than Stone, Two Coins, Take Care, Ladies and Gentlemen.

3. Haim – Days Are Gone
These three rock-n-roll sisters came out of nowhere. I first heard The Wire on a video show, and I loved it. After that, I checked out the album, and I was blown away; who are these ladies, and where did this amazing album come from? According to many sources, these girls loved Fleetwood Mac growing up, and that style influenced their musical style. While I only hear subtleties, I think these ladies have created a truly incredible debut. Very rarely do you come across a new group that is this incredibly talented, and able to turn out a practically flawless debut album. This is one album that I listened to over and over again, because each song is incredible, and not like anything else I heard this year. Seeing them live a few weeks ago was the icing on the cake; they are INCREDIBLE live, and totally slayed the concert. I hope this is a start of a long and illustrious career for this talented trio. Song Highlights: The Wire, Honey & I, Go Slow, If I Could Change Your Mind, Forever, Falling.

4. Tegan and Sara – Heartthrob
I’ve really liked these twin sisters for quite some time, but never so much as I do since this album came out. Embracing a bit more of an electronic sound, added to their tried and true acoustic, guitar driven sound from the start, they tried something different and completely succeeded. In my honest opinion, they have never been stronger, both in their “new” sound as well as lyrically, I have no doubt that they have attracted many new fans with this album. Much more polished, and cohesive, Heartthrob is definitely my favorite Tegan and Sara album thus far. I found myself loving more songs that ever before, and the album in and of it self is cohesive, solid, and very well made. Not saying that haven’t been this strong in the past, as these ladies are incredibly talented; they just have come into something different, and in my opinion, more developed and polished than ever before. Seeing them live recently also made me appreciate their new album even more; they are incredible live, and this show was better than the one I had seen years ago. Song Highlights: Closer, Now I’m All Messed Up, Shock to Your System, I Was a Fool.

5. Lady GaGa – ARTPOP
What can I say? It’s Lady GaGa. I have loved her since the first time I heard Just Dance, which was a good 8 months or so before her debut dropped, and since that time, she has gone from a pop diva to a full-fledged pop phenomenon. While many critics agreed that this was a “weak” album for the superstar, especially when compared to her near-flawless previous releases, I think that this album is merely a minor misstep in an otherwise flawless career thus far. GaGa is hugely talented, and that goes without saying; those that don’t like her can’t deny her level of talent is through the roof, and with this album, she reinvented herself yet again. This time, however, it didn’t blow everyone away like it had before. HOWEVER, I feel like this album is a well-rounded, very strong effort from a massively talented artist. With Applause, the first single off of her new album, GaGa released, what I think, is one of her strongest singles to date; but for whatever reason, I didn’t resonate as strongly as previous efforts. The album release was considered somewhat of a “flop”, because it didn’t blow her previous effort out of the water, but I think that GaGa had insurmountable odds to overcome, and as opposed to trying to best herself, she put her best foot forward, and made a record that she felt comfortable with and loved. It is clear that her passion is still front and center, and while there are a few missteps on the album, this is more GaGa gold that fans can enjoy like before. Song Highlights: Applause, Sexxx Dreams, Venus, Gypsy, Dope, Do What U Want.

6. Miley Cyrus – Bangerz
This album fits squarely in the column of, “I really shouldn’t like this, but… it’s just so… dammit, it’s just so darn good!!”, AKA, what most people would label as guilty pleasures. That being said, I would say that nothing should be a guilty pleasure; if you like something, for whatever reason, just enjoy it! This album was so much better than I was expecting, that I was honestly a little blown away by it. Not only is Miley an extremely talented singer (trust me, she slayed live), but her choices on this album show that not only does she know how to pick a hit, but her choice of producers to work with shows the potential making of a star; after all, you’re only as strong as the music you put out. Remember when Britney was seemingly unstoppable? It was largely because of who she was working with, and I can definitely say that Miley has taken note, and is doing something spot on with her “new” career. With this album, and honestly, with one “stripped down” video for Wrecking Ball, she left her purely innocent pop past as Hannah Montana squarely in the past. Couple that with an infamous racy performance at the MTV music awards, and Miley had transformed herself into the most talked about woman in the room. The attention is well deserved, as this is an incredible pop album, and while it isn’t her debut, it might as well be. I’m not ashamed to say that I love the “new” Miley Cyrus, and if she keeps making albums this strong, she’s got a very long career ahead of her for sure. Song Higlights: Wrecking Ball, Adore You, We Don’t Stop, Drive, #GETITRIGHT, Maybe You’re Right.

7. London Grammar – If You Wait
The first time I heard their sleepy hit Strong, I knew I had stumbled onto something incredible. When they released their album, shortly thereafter, I found myself entranced and hypnotized by Hannah Reid’s haunting vocals, which are beautifully paired with saccharine, wispy harmonies and delicate beats. While the album leans towards possibly being a bit monotonous (and I don’t mean this in a negative way… more cohesive), in that a lot of the songs blend so seamlessly together, and nothing stands out as strongly as well, Strong, the album is beautiful, and there is nary a misstep to be found on it. Definitely a great chill out album, reminiscent of, and I have to believe, playing tribute to, gorgeous music from trip-hop artists like Portishead from the past. This is one band that I would love to see play live, as I am sure they are incredible. I love discovering music like this, especially when bands this incredibly talented come out of pretty much nowhere. This is truly an excellent debut, indeed. Song Highlights: Strong, Stay Awake, Hey Now, Wasting My Young Years.

8. Hayden – Us Alone
I’ve loved Hayden for quite some time, and his latest sleepy-rock album is another fantastic addition to an ever-increasingly magnificent music cannon. Hayden is like a very fine wine, he only gets better with each subsequent release. While this is a short album at only 8 songs, he packed in some truly beautiful songs about love and loss, a subject he seems to know all too well. Hayden’s tenderness always shines in his music, and this is another heartfelt album that more people should be listening to. Song Highlights: Almost Everything, Oh Memory, Just Give Me a Name, Motel, Rainy Saturday.

9. One Direction – Midnight Memories (Deluxe Edition)
These lads were a hot point of contention for me at first; they are sort of responsible for the break up of Westlife, my favorite boy band of all time. Once I got past my heartbreak on losing Westlife, I couldn’t help but fall deeply for these guys and their ridiculously catchy pop. This is an album that is far better than it should be; there really isn’t anything on here that’s bad. This being their third album, I can tell that those that are not firmly in the 1D camp need to either wise up or get out of the way; they aren’t going anywhere for a while. After seeing them on SNL, I saw the star power they possess, and their live shows are probably a big reason why their popularity has continued to soar. They are the new incarnation of the boyband, and they are really doing it really, really well. This is another fantastic pop album chock full of singles; which begs the question, why haven’t more singles been released?! Here’s hoping that will be remedied in the coming months; there is enough material on this album to spawn many more hits. Song Highlights: Through the Dark, Best Song Ever, Strong, Story of My Life, Don’t Forget Where You Belong, Little White Lies, Better Than Words.

10. Rosi Golan – Fortuna
This may be an EP, but it is filled with such amazing songs, so I felt compelled to include it in the best albums of 2013 for that very reason. I have loved Rosi Golan ever since I heard her amazing duet with William Fitzsimmons, Hazy. Her voice is hauntingly beautiful, and on this gorgeous EP, she has given fans a beautiful mini-album full of some of her best work. Unfortunately, I discovered her previous album, Lead Balloon many months after its release, and it missed my best of 2011 as a result. Fortunately, I saw this immediately on its release, and was able to give a little love to Rosi this year, as it is so well deserved. This is one of those artists that is so incredibly talented, but for some reason, tends to fly just under the radar. If you still haven’t heard of her yet, this is your notice; check out Rosi Golan and this incredible release. This is a gorgeous record, and as with her previous work, it has me excited for what she puts out next. Song Highlights: Curtain Call, Give Up The Ghost, Your Forgiveness, Churchyard Sleep.

11. Leslie Hall – Songs In The Key Of Gold
With Songs, Mother Gem released a delicious remix album of her hits, along with a couple of new songs (four to be exact!!) to keep the party moving. I was fortunate enough to see her perform this amazing album live earlier this year, and I had such an amazing time (I always do at her shows!!). This is a best of/greatest hits album with the dance knob turned way up, and the lycra extra tight; Titus Jones remixed all of these songs, and made already danceable fun tracks into the ultimate dance party. I always joke that if I could see Leslie perform about once every month, I would never be sad or worry again. I honestly wish it were an option, because this is always the highlight of my week when a Leslie show is on the books. Thanks for another fabulous album, Mother Gem; it is gem-fantabulous!! New Songs: Neon Blood, #1 Cat In America, Happy Birthday, Of Course You Where Glasses.

The rest…

The Postal Service – 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition – a pivotal, influential album gets a remastered re-release; still perfection 10 years later.
30 Seconds To Mars – Love Lust Faith + Dreams – another great 30 seconds album.
Beyonce – Beyonce – secret release, some great singles that I can’t get enough of, some stuff I didn’t love.
CHVRCHES – The Mother We Share – I should have liked this more than I did, even though I really, really did like it.
Ciara – Ciara – a few good songs, mostly, I’m Out and Body Party.
Dawes – Stores Don’t End – great stories tellers, love, love, love, Most People.
Shane Filan – You and Me – so much potential, so much repetition.
Goldfrapp – Tales Of Us – I just didn’t get into this one, shame as I love Goldfrapp.
Selena Gomez – Stars Dance – great guilty pleasure; some real bangers on here.
The Great Gatsby Soundtrack – excellent movie, GREAT soundtrack.
Icona Pop – This is… Icona Pop – love these two; some missteps pull down the album.
Jessie J – Alive – amazing singer, great pop starlet, just not as dynamic as her debut.
Little Mix – DNA (US Deluxe Edition) – this is pop, dammit! If it weren’t for the nose dive on the back end of the album, it may have been in the best of list above…
Lorde – Pure Heroine – loved it, just very, very, very overplayed.
Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady – super talented, super talented, super talented.
MSMR – Secondhand Rapture – some great singles, didn’t get into all of it, unfortunately.
Olly Murs – Right Place, Right Time – honestly, it just missed the best list…
Kate Nash – Girl Talk – a lot darker, a lot more punk, a lot less catchy and fun.
The National – Trouble Will Find Me – another fantastic and amazing album from super talented guys.
Tom Odell – Long Way Down – good stuff, just didn’t take me by storm.
The Paper Kites – States – opened for City and Colour; love finding a new, great band.
Silver Bells – Bitter Rivals – a bit tamer than their debut, but still pretty darn good.
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires Of The City – always count on them for a great album.
The Wanted – Word of Mouth – not going to lie; a little disappointed given their previous work.
Jessie Ware – Devotion – pretty good, just didn’t blow me away.
Katy Perry – Prism – potential… wasted (Dark Horse is brilliant, though).
The Saturdays – Living For The Weekend – I think they were a little rushed; at least it seems like things were thrown together for this; definitely not as strong as their previous albums. Some AMAZING singles, though.
Britney Spears – Britney Jean – her “most personal”, yet her weakest album to date, with the weakest lead single of her career; very disappointed (Perfume is incredible, though).

2011: my 11 favorite albums

I know, right? FINALLY! The wait is over, and here are my 11 favorite albums from LAST YEAR, 2011. Now, this list really isn’t a surprise to me, because these are the albums that I listened to most throughout the year, and they are all stellar. However, for the first time, for me, there was a clear tie for first; I couldn’t pick one of them over the other, no matter how hard I tried. That being said, I hope you enjoy my picks for my favorite albums of 2011. I also listed several albums that were great, but just didn’t make the cut, because they weren’t up to the par of these special few. Now, on to the list!

(tie) 1. Adele – 21
I have loved Adele pretty much from the first moment I heard of her. I saw some blogs talking about this “up and coming” singer back in early 2008, and after hearing some live stuff, I was instantly on board. What came next was an amazing debut, 19, which was my number 4 album of 2008. Then, I saw her live at the Variety in March of 2009, and that concert solidified her as one of my favorite artists. Obviously, I was jazzed to here a new album was slated for early 2011, but I wasn’t prepared for this opus that she would release. This album doesn’t have a single bad track on it. It is immaculate. This is an album that is current, and one that will age well; it is a new classic. Adele is one of those singers that has such talent that it isn’t really being matched by many right now; and people are taking notice. This is one of those rare instances where there is something I love so very much that happens to make it on the radio, and gain the attention of the masses; this album made 2011 a huge year for Adele. Now, if she can just quit pushing herself so hard, take some breaks, and protect that amazing voice; I want to enjoy her for a lifetime.
Standout Tracks: Turning Tables, Set Fire To The Rain, Someone Like You, Take It All, Rolling In The Deep.

(tie) 1. City and Colour – Little Hell
This album being on top shouldn’t surprise anyone that reads this blog regularly; I adore Dallas Green, aka City and Colour. He is another one, like Adele, that when I first heard of him, I was instantly hooked, and I realized quickly that I had found an all time favorite artist in him. His most recent album, Little Hell, is raw, beautiful, dark, poignant, flawed, and still, damn near perfect. This album takes what he does best (making amazingly well written songs and setting them to hauntingly beautiful acoustic music), and builds it to a crescendo. This album captivated my attention from when it was released in June, and continues to be on heavy rotation for me now; this is a shining example of a supremely well made album by a truly amazing artist. Little Hell showed me that I chose well when I declared City and Colour as one of my favorite artists, because he does not disappoint. I was worried that it wouldn’t meet or exceed Bring Me Your Love (which is one of my favorite albums of all time), but he met the mark, and made an album that stands proudly along side it. Excellent, excellent music, here folks, and one of my favorites of the year by far.
Standout Tracks: Northern Wind, O’ Sister, Grand Optimist, We Found Each Other In The Dark, Little Hell.

3. William Fitzsimmons – Gold In The Shadow (Deluxe Edition)
I finally got to see him live earlier this year, and I KNOW that this influenced my decision to put his album this high; the album is amazing, but hearing it live made for one of the best concert experiences of my entire life. William is an incredibly folk musician, and his music is tender, and achingly beautiful. What pushed him higher on the list was the re-release of this album as a Deluxe Edition, because it contains some of his most beautiful songs to date (which are included in the standout tracks). Another great album by another amazing artist; are you sensing a trend here, people?
Standout Tracks: By My Side, Beautiful Girl, Ever Could, Blood And Bones, Bird of Winter Prey.

4. Jessie J – Who You Are
Initially, I was a bit turned off by her (not a huge fan of Price Tag), but I listened to the whole album, and man, I was blown away. This chick can SING!! She has some amazing songs, and her debut is nothing to scoff at; it’s brilliant. Definitely one of my biggest surprises of the year; glad I gave her a second chance! Also, the re-release with Domino was smart; Domino is such a fantastic addition to an already amazing album.
Standout Tracks: Who You Are, Do It Like A Dude, L.O.V.E., Domino, Abracadabra.

5. Lady GaGa – Born This Way
What can I say, IT’S GAGA. Seriously, haters beware; this is pop music people. GaGa is still killing it, several years into the game at this point, and clearly, has no intention of slowing down. Some of the tracks on this album are the best of her career; she clearly has a knack for what it takes to make a hit. This album is excellent from beginning to end, but the Deluxe version “extras” were just so-so. Overall, GaGa has never let me down, and this album was certainly one of my favorites this year.
Standout Tracks: Heavy Metal Lover, Born This Way, Marry The Night, Americano, The Edge of Glory.

6. Patrick Wolf – Lupercalia
I love how eccentric this guy is; he clearly has his own style, and flaunts it with such, well, style, that it begs for attention. I really enjoyed his previous work, and was excited to hear a new album from him this year. However, it was all shock and awe when, low and behold, this is the happiest I have heard him! There are so many wonderful love songs on this album, and it is definitely my favorite album he’s released to date. Do yourself and watch the video for House too; it is EPIC. I love artists that aren’t afraid to be themselves, and Patrick is the definition of unique. His talent is too wonderful not to explore and share.
Standout Tracks: House, The City, Bermondsey Street, Together, The Future.

7. Feist – Metals
I am a gigantic Feist fan; I have been since I saw her live on her tour for The Reminder. That album caught me by surprise and ended up being my number 2 album of 2007. I didn’t think I’d have to wait so many years to get another fantastic album from this Canadian chanteuse, but when she announced she’d follow up this year, I was thrilled. She didn’t disappoint, either; fantastic follow up to a fantastic previous album.
Standout Tracks: How Come You Never Go There, Bittersweet Melodies, Anti Pioneer, Graveyard, Caught A Long Wind.

8. Death Cab For Cutie – Codes and Keys
What can I say, Death Cab are one of my all time favorite bands, so obviously, I am going to be excited when they come out with new material. This time, they released some very happy and upbeat songs, and many of them channeled electronic elements of Gibbard’s seemingly abandoned side project from years ago, The Postal Service. I was more than happy to hear those influences on this album, and still hold out hope for another Postal Service album; but that’s a different story for a different time. The songs on this album are excellent, and it is yet another great album but one of my favorite bands… this seems to be the trend for 2011.
Standout Tracks: St. Peter’s Cathedral, Stay Young Go Dancing, You Are A Tourist, Unobstructed Views, Some Boys.

9. Florence + The Machines – Ceremonials
While her first album took me a little while to fully enjoy, I was waiting at the starting gate for this go ’round. Florence is truly an artist that crafts a song from the words, to their pronunciation, to the music, and the orchestration; all of these are her instruments, and the effect is a layered song that is unique and gorgeous. She uses her dynamic musical talent to craft yet another album that many people will continue to talk about for a while to come; she has proven she is truly an artist to watch, and listen to.
Standout Tracks: Shake It Out, Only If For A Night, No Light No Light, Remain Nameless, Never Let Me Go.

10. Mat Kearney – Young Love
Always a favorite of mine, Mat tries a few new things, while bringing the signature of his previous work on board, making yet another fantastic album. The blend of hip hop with pop-rock is unmistakably Mat’s signature, and he weaves more delightful music on this album, and makes some of his best music to date. While it didn’t quite wow me as much as his previous effort, it does stand out as one of my favorites of the year, and there really isn’t another negative thing I have to say about it.
Standout Tracks: Ships In The Night, Count On Me, Chasing The Light, Rochester, Hey Mama.

11. Britney Spears – Femme Fatale
Arguably, this is by and large, one of her strongest, and most cohesive albums to date. Some of the songs on this album made for some of her most dynamic, and interesting singles as well. Overall, this album will certainly be one that Britney can look back on one of her overall best. That being said, the inclusion of the complete throwaway track, Big Fat Bass, almost derails the entire effort for me, but I skip it each time I listen to the album, so I won’t let it ruin the pop masterpiece that soars throughout the rest of the record. It’s Britney, bitch, indeed.
Standout Tracks: Till The World Ends, Criminal, Seal It With A Kiss, I Wanna Go, Hold It Against Me.

Well, there you have it; my favorite 11 albums of 2011. I hope you found something you hadn’t heard, and give it a chance. I also hope that you enjoyed these albums as much as I did in 2011, and will continue to enjoy on into 2012 and for years to come.

Now, the rest… These are albums that were very good, but for whatever reason, missed the 5 star mark. Some of them just have fantastic singles, but a lot of throwaways dragging them down, and others were just good, but nothing stood out as fantastic. Either way, here’s a bunch of other music you should check out, as it was stuff I was digging in 2011:
Matt Alber – Constant Crows: Love this out crooner, he’s as easy on the eyes as he is on the ears. A great follow up to his debut, and the Madonna cover is amazing.
Beyonce – 4: Color me disppointed; some AMAZING singles, some really bad songs. All over the place.
Bjork – Biophilia: Kinda like above, an amazing lead single, the rest was weird, but interesting.
Bon Iver – Bon Iver: Love him, even though his voice is a bit weird to me.
Alex Clare – The Lateness Of The Hour: Dubstep meets soaring, chill inducing male vocals.
Kelly Clarkson – Stronger: Originally, I stated it was ‘meh’; well, it grew on me, some real stompers on here.
The Decemberists – The King Is Dead: Some of this is excellent, some just too twangy.
Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues: Gorgeous, but also a bit too ethereal for me.
David Guetta – Nothing But The Beat: An album full of floor filling dance singles, what’s not to love (well, a few of them, that’s what).
Jennifer Hudson – I Remember Me: I love this girl. Practically as good as her debut, with just a few slight missteps.
JLS – Jukebox: Overall, enjoyable, but nothing really stands out of the pack.
Cher Lloyd – Sticks + Stones: Excellent, almost made my year end list. Reminds me of the spunk of Lily Allen. Swagger Jagger is a deal breaker, though.
Jennifer Lopez – Love?: Color me surprised with this one! Some MAJOR singles, but the rest is filler.
M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming: Pretty, weird, pretty weird… but good!!!
Jon McLaughlin – Forever If Ever: Great songwriter, but some of them felt like half-hearted efforts. The stellar songs are stellar, though!
Matt Nathanson – Modern Love: Didn’t love it as much as his previous release, but still good nonetheless.
Noah and the Whale – Last Night On Earth: Very different than their previous album, which I loved; hard not to compare the two.
One Direction – Up All Night: Fun and poppy.
Peter Bjorn and John – Gimme Some: A bit more edgy and harder than their best album, Writer’s Block, but still good.
Nicole Scherzinger – Killer Love: Damn, this almost made my best of list; but the filler songs are bland. Where she shines, however, she is brighter than the sun!
Slow Runner – Damage Points: Saw them open for William Fitzsimmons; great band, great sound!
The Saturdays – On Your Radar: A little disappointing considering their previous work, but still great girl band pop.
Vanbot – Vanbot: Almost made my best of list; excellent, Swedish pop, reminiscent of fellow Swedish pop princess Robyn. Definitely one to keep your eye on.
The Wanted – Battleground: Kinda like JLS; overall, enjoyable, but nothing really stands out.
White Lies – Ritual: Quite excellent, and maybe with more listens, I’ll love it even more; it just didn’t capture my attention last year.
Will Young – Echoes: Oh how I had such high hopes for this album, and I tried, I tried so hard to love it. It has some AMAZING singles (Jealousy being my favorite song of the year, btw), but the rest of the album was a little more dance, and little less heart for me. Will’s previous album was perfection to me, so I was pretty sure this one couldn’t stand up to it, and unfortunately, it didn’t. That being said, I really love him, and he is one of my favorite artists, and despite only a luke warm feeling for me, it’s a great album nonetheless.
Young The Giant – Young The Giant: Some great singles, but the high points far outshine the low points.

the 31 best of 2009: 6-10

6: Silversun Pickups – Swoon
Silversun Pickups really remind me of high school a lot, in that their music reminds me of the way that I felt when I first truly knew that I loved music. Much like the way early Smashing Pumpkins got me into alternative rock, the Silversun Pickups picked up that torch and keep the race going for me when I first heard their insanely good debut, Carnavas. Naturally, when I found out they were releasing a new album last year, I was bouncing around with excitement, and after hearing Swoon, I have to say, that Silversun Pickups really outdid themselves with this album. From the insane distortion-love-fest that is There’s No Secrets This Year (which, in my opinion, may be their best song to date), to the incredible lead single, Panic Switch, and throughout the rest of Swoon, Silversun Pickups proved that they were not going to settle for a sophomore slump; in fact, I more than happy to proclaim that Swoon soars above their debut. While I don’t really understand the ways in which they chose people for the “best new artist” category for the Grammys (for which Swoon got them nominated), it doesn’t surprise me in the least the Swoon managed to get Silversun Pickups on a lot of people’s radar this year, because this truly amazing band is making some fantastic music that MUST be heard, shared, and enjoyed. This is one of those albums that is perfect to put on when you are driving around, and want to just rock out; and that is just what I did many, many times last year (and continue to do now!). I am so glad that Swoon turned out to be as amazing of an album as it is, because it really builds on the taste that Cavarnas alluded to, and just how amazing and talented the Silversun Pickups turned out to be. Standout Tracks: There’s No Secrets This Year, Panic Switch, The Royal We, Substitution, Sort Of.

7: Mat Kearney – City of Black and White
What can I say about Mat Kearney other than he’s just simply wonderful? After falling pretty much head over heels for him with his “debut” (I use quotations, because it was more aptly described as his major label debut) Nothing Left To Lose, I was more than excited when I found out he would finally be releasing a follow up earlier last year. When I heard the lead single, Closer to Love, I became even more excited for the album, because it is definitely one of his best songs to date. When I finally got City of Black and White, I realized that it was worth the wait; Mat has grown as an artist, and taken something that he did so well before, and transformed it into something simply amazing on this new CD. From his heartfelt vocals, sweet rhythms, and rhymes woven throughout each track, and the way in which he melds rock and roll with a twinge of hip hop, City of Black and White is a truly wonderful collection of songs that show just how talented of a musician Mat really is. The cherry on top for me, was seeing Mat live again last year, and as he was the first time I saw him, he was practically flawless. This is one of those musicians that I will always be on the lookout for, because of just how consistently amazing his music has proven to be; with this most recent release being certainly no exception. Standout Tracks: Closer To Love, All I Have, Here We Go, On and On, New York To California, City of Black and White.

8: A Fine Frenzy – Bomb In A Birdcage
This album’s lead single was certainly an appropriately titled track; Bomb in a Birdcage was certainly one that would blow me away in 2009. I never really gelled with A Fine Frenzy’s first album, but once I gained a true appreciation of the aforementioned lead singleBlow Away, something told me to pay closer attention to her upcoming release. What I found, was an amazing album that captured my attention like she had never done before, and I found myself loving this album so much more than I was expecting. From beginning to end, A Fine Frenzy has created a beautiful, upbeat, catchy, and down right amazing pop album; one that I just can’t seem to get enough listens of. If you have been reading this blog for any amount of time, you should know by now that I am a sucker for a female piano-driven pop artist, and Allison Sudol (aka A Fine Frenzy) has solidified herself as one of my favorites with the release of the amazing Bomb in a Birdcage. The songs are so well written, both lyrically as well as the layered and beautiful arrangements, and I with each new listen, I actually find something new in each track that makes me love it more. There isn’t a misstep in sight with this album, which is fantastic from beginning to end. I am glad that I sat up and paid more attention this time around, because missing out on this album would certainly be a tragedy. I really can’t say it enough: A Fine Frenzy’s Bomb in a Birdcage is magnificent and it will blow you away, just like it did to me! Standout Tracks: Swan Song, Bird of the Summer, Blow Away, What I Wouldn’t Do, New Heights, Electric Twist.

9: Lady GaGa – The Fame Monster
So if there was any doubt in the lead up to Lady GaGa taking the throne as the next big thing in pop music, she pretty much put the death nell in that notion with the release of The Fame Monster. While it started out as only an 8 track “addendum” to her debut album released in 2008 year, The Fame, GaGa fought the music moguls and won the right to have The Fame Monster released as a separate album in 2009 (along with it being packaged with The Fame in the deluxe edition). However, regardless if it was an add on or not isn’t an issue, as with Monster, GaGa takes her innovative brand of pop and pushes it to the next level. From the insanely catchy, RA-RA’s of Bad Romance, all of the way through to the innovatively amazing album closer Teeth, GaGa just shows that not only is she not going away any time soon, but she plans to up the ante while she’s got our attention. On this album, I feel like GaGa has shared a lot more of herself; giving more raw performances with each track, matching her live show much more closely than ever before. Speaking of the album’s lead single, Bad Romance, GaGa also upped the ante on her equally innovative performance art, and released what many will agree was the one of the best music videos of the decade. Certainly she must be tired, because based on the consistent quality of her trail blazing take on the pop music scene, GaGa is only setting the bar higher and higher for her pop peers and herself; and she doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. For me, The Fame Monster solidifies GaGa as one of the biggest (and best) things to happen to pop music in over a decade; and if this is any indication of the future, I expect to see a lot more GaGa, and I can’t wait. Standout Tracks: Bad Romance, Teeth, Speechless, Mouth, Telephone.

10: Passion Pit – Manners
The first time I heard the MASSIVE single Sleepyhead, I was instantly sitting there wondering to myself just where in the hell this amazingness came from. There have been tons of indie pop groups out there shovelling similar stuff down our throats for years, but never had I heard something as catchy as the amazing Sleepyhead. Well, several months later, they released the follow up track, The Reeling, which would be the lead single for their proper first album, Manners, to be released early in 2009. Needless to say, I realized I had stumbled very early on to something amazing, and I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on the then upcoming Passion Pit debut album. When Manners finally came out, what I got was nothing short of fantastic, and I instantly fell for this amazing indie-pop concoction. While Sleepyhead is still my favorite, there are many tracks on the album that make me wonder why these guys are more popular than they are; they really know what they are doing, and have made a pretty fucking amazing debut album. I am so glad that I found this one in 2009; it really deserves to be on a shitload of best of 2009 lists, and I know that I would have been kicking myself if I had missed out on this gem (and thankfully, I didn’t!). Standout Tracks: Sleepyhead, The Reeling, Little Secrets, Moth’s Wings, Let Your Love Grow Tall.

5SF: november 13

First up today, let’s take a look at a truly inspiring story from what I can only describe as a true example of what our nation’s youth should aspire to be like. That kid has some courage. I wish there were more like him; maybe someday he will be the majority, and we can all share in equal civil rights in this country. Here’s hoping! Thanks Will! You rock!

Now, I have some AMAZING songs for you today. One of them, I have literally been clamoring FOR WEEKS to get to post about! Without further adieu, here we go!

Will Young – Hopes and Fears
[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_1113_willyoung-hopesandfears.mp3]
It’s time for some well placed gushing ladies and gents! This song is completely, utterly, and fantastically amazing. This is the new single from Will’s upcoming release, The Hits, and it is definitely one of his best songs ever; how fitting that it would be recorded for his first greatest hits compilation. Will nearly took the top spot in my best of CD countdown last year, and my love for everything Will Young certainly hasn’t diminished in the slightest. So I guess you can imagine my excitement when I heard that he would be releasing new material this year; even if it was only going to be a little bit of new stuff for a greatest hits compilation. Well, one listen of his new single, and it seems my excitement was well placed. From Will’s consistently beautiful vocals, to the absolutely amazing arrangement, to the clever video (what time would have more Hopes and Fears attached to it than being pregnant?! Brilliant!), this song is the whole package. After the first listen, I knew that I loved this song, and I am more than excited to feature it this week. This song has been on major repeat for me, and I just cannot get enough of it; it is amazing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I certainly do!!

Lady GaGa – Bad Romance
[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_1113_ladygaga-badromance.mp3]
I was torn about posting a Lady GaGa song this week (since by now, everyone and their mother is sure to have heard it), but given the video’s release this week, and how good this track is, I couldn’t ignore it. When I started talking about her, it didn’t seem like many people cared, but slowly, everyone seemed to come into the Haus of GaGa. A little over a year later, and she is a bona fide pop sensation that seems to somehow be picking up even MORE steam. As I hinted at above, this week, the internet has been all a flutter because of the release of her AMAZING video for Bad Romance, the new single off of her (not a reissue after all!) new, upcoming album, The Fame Monster. Lady GaGa took me by storm when I first heard Just Dance, and I am glad to see that she is still working her ass off in bringing the true quality goods of pop music to the table. Not only does she nail it with her innovative take on pop, but she kills it with fashion and the video as well (I would personally like to shake Mr. Alexander McQueen’s hand for those ridiculously AMAZING shoes in the video too; dude, you are a genius of fashion. Those shoes at 3:30 make me want to be a lady JUST so I can wear them. Amazing). Lady GaGa is a pop phenomenon, and if you weren’t paying attention by now, I have to ask, “what is wrong with you?”; the Haus of GaGa has certainly set up permanent residence, and pop music is all the better for it.

JLS – Everybody In Love
[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_1113_jls-everybodyinlove.mp3]
It should come as no surprise to my regular readers of the 5SF that I love British pop music, and after hearing this song in BBC Radio 1, I was reminded of just why I love it so much. This song is incredibly catchy, and the chorus will be stuck in your head for hours after hearing it. I only heard of JLS a few weeks ago; apparently, I missed out on their first single, Beat Again, when it was released a few months back. However, with the release of this new single (which is an official UK number one!) that coincided with the release of their self-titled debut last week, it seems that I couldn’t ignore them any longer. While the jury is still out on the rest of the album, this song is getting constant play on my ipod. This song reminds me A LOT of the great pop ballad-type anthems made popular by the Backstreet Boys back in their hay-day (I’m thinking of perhaps their biggest song, I Want It That Way). JLS may have come in second on last year’s X-Factor, but by the sound of things, they are doing quite well for themselves post-X-factor in 2009.

Biffy Clyro – The Captain
[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_1113_biffyclyro-thecaptain.mp3]
This has been a good year for finding rock bands from the UK (Band of Skulls, Glasvegas and, White Lies to name a few). When I first heard this song, I thought it was Snow Patrol, because the lead singer’s vocals in this song have a very similar sound to the lead singer of Snow Patrol. To my surprise, it was actually Biffy Clyro (who’s lead singer is Scottish), who I have heard of, but I had actually never heard anything by before. My interest was peaked, because I have had some experience with Biffy Clyro, because the lead singer is a part of a side project called Marmaduke Duke; whom I posted about in a previous 5SF back in April, after falling in love with their AMAZING single Rubber Lover. While I unfortunately didn’t fall for Marmaduke Duke’s album as much as I did for Rubber Lover, I have found a new found interest in Biffy Clyro with this song, and subsequently, their new release Only Revolutions (which is quite good throughout!). This is a great, very catchy single, and I am glad that it got me into a band that I doubt I would have ever paid attention to, had it not been for this great song.

The Swell Season – Paper Cup
[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_1113_theswellseason-papercup.mp3]
To say that I was excited for the release of the new album by The Swell Season would be quite an understatement. However, and somewhat unfortunately, the hype must have gotten to me, because I have had a difficult time really getting into it since it was released a few weeks ago. That being said, this song was an instant stand out, mostly because of the beautiful arrangement, and the intricacy with which they weave the melody throughout the chorus. The gentle guitar picking, and the beautiful deep bass, all overlain with the distorted keyboard, comes together to create something truly gorgeous. Add to that the sweet and sensitive vocals of Glen Handsard, and what’s not to love? Nothing, I tell you. This is definitely one of the best tracks off their new album; and perhaps shining some attention on it this week will motivate me to keep trying to get into the rest of Strict Joy (which is good, but I think I hyped it up so high that there was no way I wouldn’t be let down at least a little).

Well, there’s your 5 song Friday for this week; what did you think? As always, let me know not only what you thought of this week’s selection, but also what you are listening to. If there is something that I am missing out on that is a must hear, please, do share!

5SS: october 31

So here’s the deal: I was extremely busy all week trying to get my school work finished so I could enjoy this weekend without worrying about how to fit all of that work in with my Pride/Halloween plans. I managed to finish everything yesterday, but the 5SF got cut because of it. However, there are NO rules against doing it a day late! So here’s the first, and hopefully last 5SS; 5SF’s will go back to their regularly scheduled day after this week! Now, let’s get to the music!

The Saturdays – Here Standing
[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_1031_thesaturdays-herestanding.mp3]
I know that I was gushing about how Lose Control was the best song on the new album by the Saturdays, and while it is AMAZING, I think I might have been wrong. THIS is the best song their new album. It is amazing. It evokes the same feeling of another amazing track, No Air, and has me breathless after each listen. I still cannot get over how amazing their sophomore album is; it is even better that their debut (which was stellar, btw). The Saturdays have made some brilliant pop, and this is sitting pretty atop the rest right now; this song is epic, and totally beautiful. I am PRAYING that they release this as a single, because there is no way that it wouldn’t be number one. Seriously, this song is EPIC. BRILLIANT. AMAZING. LOTS OF WORDS IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. This record is amazing, and I can’t seem to say it enough.

Kaci Battaglia – Crazy Possessive
[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_1031_kacibattaglia-crazypossessive.mp3]
WARNING: This song says fuck in it like 65 times; you have been warned. I opted not to go for the radio-friendly version, because I love the tenacity with which she screams fuck in each threatening line of the chorus. This song is a total guilty pleasure, one that uses an arrangement that borrows heavily from Soft Cell’s Tainted Love; but it is almost as if she borrowed the arrangement from Rihanna’s SOS, which borrowed its arrangement from Soft Cell. Interesting. The result is a great back beat with a fierce song about fucking up a bitch who comes after your man. Don’t fuck with Kaci; she’ll cut a bitch!

Ke$ha – TiK ToK
[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_1031_kesha-tiktok.mp3]
GUILTY PLEASURE ALERT: I resisted the shit out of this song. No way was I going to concede and like someone who thought it was cute to spell her name with a dollar sign in it. However, far too many of you suggested this song to me to ignore it any longer; and what better time to post it during Pride weekend. This song is a true banger, and I am sure that it will be loved by gay boys all over; including this one. Yes ladies and gents, I give in. I love this ghetto fabulous track by Miss Kesha… I’m sorry, I mean Ke$ha. Ugh, I still don’t like that, though. Also, what the hell is up with the line, Now, the dudes are lining up cause they hear we got swagger/But we kick em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger? Someone needs to let this little cutie know that she can do better than guys that look like tired old Mick. I’m just saying; Ke$ha, don’t sell yourself short, doll.

Cascada – Evacuate the Dancefloor
[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_1031_cascada-evacuatethedancefloor.mp3]
LOOK! IT’S THE GAYEST VERSION OF JUST DANCE SINCE JUST DANCE! Seriously, I tried really hard not to like this complete rip on Lady GaGa’s amazing first single, Just Dance, but I just couldn’t resist. Cascada has danced her way into my heart again, and I just can’t resist any longer. Yes, this song is pretty much a spot on remake of Just Dance; it follows the exact same formula that Lady GaGa perfected with Just Dance. However, isn’t imitation the sincerest form of flattery? If that’s the case, Cascada LOVES her some Lady GaGa, and she made this little homage so we could all get out on the floor and keep the dance party going. I have been playing this one for a few months now, probably way more often than I should, and I thought it was perfect for a Pride 5SF, so here it is. You win again, Cascada! Gays rejoice! Dance music for the masses!!

Lisa Scott-Lee – Electric
[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_1031_lisascott-lee-electric.mp3]
Oh how much I love Lisa Scott-Lee; let me count the ways… a song consisting of nothing but hyper sexual double entendres, the fact that she was in the amazing pop super group Steps, and THIS… oh Lisa. This song should have been a massive hit when it was released back in 2005, but probably due to the stink that was still left on everyone’s mind about the break up of Steps, it tanked. She probably shouldn’t have promised to quit the music business if it failed, but she did, and well, it did. Regardless of the stink that surrounded this song, I have always loved it, and wanted to feature it this week; especially since I have been paying more deserved attention since reviving it during the British pop explosion I did a few weeks back. I have say, I do think it’s interesting (as D’Luv pointed out last year) that this song got cloned and turned out to be a moderate hit for Ms. Jackson, which I guess speaks to cyclical nature of the music biz. I hope the Lisa Scott-Lee reemerges someday and gives another brilliant pop gem like this one. I know of at least a couple other gay boys that would be rejoicing right along with me.

Well, I want to apologize for getting this to you a day late, but it’s better late than never. I couldn’t go another week without giving you something to listen to. I hope that everyone has a happy Halloween, and a very happy Pride weekend if you are in Atlanta. Let me know what you thought of this week’s selections, and as always, tell me what you are listening to as well! Take care!

lady gaga @ center stage ATL 4/9/09

I finally finished sorting through the TONS of pictures that I took at Lady GaGa last week, so I am finally ready to do a post about the concert. First of all, I will start by saying that yes, it was amazing. Lady GaGa knows how to put on a show, as I witnessed the first time I saw her back in October of last year. However, this time, I got to see a full show, instead of just a few songs at an intimate venue.

I will say this; I have been to Center Stage MANY times. Most of the time, it is sold out. I have never, however, seen as many people there as I did the night of Lady GaGa. It was insane. Speaking of which, people need to be more respectful of others. You can’t save 5 seats. You can’t get all assholish when someone in the standing room only area accidentally bumps into you. People really need to learn how to be nicer. Anyway…
Lady GaGa @ Center Stage ATL 4/9/09
There were 3 (!!!) opening acts for Lady GaGa, and I really enjoyed Chester French (who I have featured on the 5SF in the past), and I also liked White Tie Affair (who’s CD was on my ipod, but I have never listened to it). After much anticipation, and some shuffling around trying to find a great place to watch the show from (IT WAS PACKED), the curtain fell, and Lady GaGa emerged from a funky looking set up in the middle of the stage. What followed was a full hour of costume changes, dance routines, and killer vocals from Lady GaGa. She completely delivers live, and she owned that stage like a seasoned professional.
Lady GaGa @ Center Stage ATL 4/9/09
A few songs into the show, she got more intimate, and put on her now famous bubbles outfit, and played a bubble filled piano. She played a new song, which I think is called Future Love, and it was, to quote the Lady herself, marvelous. It seems that Lady GaGa has a lot more great music to give us in the future.
Lady GaGa @ Center Stage ATL 4/9/09
Overall, the show was energetic, and the crowd was totally into her. I will admit that she is a bit “out there” with her fashion and her style, but I think that it makes her unique in that she isn’t afraid to be different, and do something funky. The result was a sold out show full of people clamoring for more of the newest, and biggest, pop diva to take hold of the reigns of pop music. I can say that I was really glad to see her again, and whenever she comes back to the ATL, you can bet that I will be there.

Check out the pictures on flickr.

5SF: april 10

So the first order of business is to say something, anything about how amazing Lady GaGa was last night at Center Stage. After seeing her in an intimate setting at Bazaar, I was excited to see a full set, and ladies and gentlemen, she did not disappoint. She was amazing. I took a lot of pictures, and hopefully, some of them came out okay; I have NEVER seen Center Stage that crowded before. Since it was so great, I want to post more on the concert later, so stay tuned. Now, let’s get to the five glorious songs for this fine Friday, shall we?

Marmaduke Duke – Rubber Lover
[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_410_marmadukeduke-rubberlover.mp3]
This is probably going to be the shortest song in the history (or future) of the Five Song Friday. This energetic track clocks in at just under 2 minutes, but the entire two minutes are a fun filled, dancey romp that is too great to ignore. You probably hear the sampling of Billy Joel’s Sleeping With The Television On, that makes the song somewhat familiar, and perhaps, even more lovable. They have been playing this song like CRAZY on BBC Radio One, and I have to admit that I crank the radio up and dance every time I hear it. This song is MASSIVE, which is funny because it is less than two minutes long! I can’t wait to see what else Marmaduke Duke has in store on their upcoming release, Duke Pandemonium.

V Factory – Love Struck
[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_410_vfactory-lovestruck.mp3]
When I first heard this song, one question filled my brain, “could this possibly signal a triumphant return of the boy band?”. Well, of course, only time can tell, but V Factory have an undeniable resemblance to another boy band, 5ive, who were pretty massive in the UK in their hay day. Also interesting to me, is that V Factory shares not only a sound similarity to 5ive, but also that the V most likely stands for 5, and as such, the two are even further, and more inexplicably linked. I am curious to see what V Factory will follow this fantastic pop track up with, because if it anything like this, then we may have an answer to the aforementioned proposed question: hells yes!

Tina Parol – Who’s Got Your Money
[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_410_tinaparol-whosgotyourmoney.mp3]
Remember the amazing Blu Cantrell and her ‘it’s over’ anthem, Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!)? Well, I do, and this song instantly reminded me of that fabulous hip hop track; but not because they sound similar in any way. Tina Parol uses the same subject matter of Blu’s break-up track, but instead of a tell off fit for a hip-hop diva, Tina steers more towards the pop-rock/Avril Lavigne-angsty rock in her delivery. In doing so, she has made another ‘you screw me over, I’ll take your money’ kiss off track that is radio-ready music to my ears. There’s something about an angry girl, exacting revenge on a bad boyfriend by hitting him in the wallet, that makes a great subject for an empowering ‘it’s over’ song; whether it be a hip hop anthem with a blasting beat, or in this case, an angsty, and energetic rock-pop track.

Paula DeAnda – Roll The Credits
[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_410_pauladeanda-rollthecredits.mp3]
Initially, this song really didn’t hit me as hard as it probably should have, because the beginning is a little weak. However, at about one minute in when the violins take you to the first crescendo, it really soars. Paula’s sweet vocals remind me a lot of fellow female artists like JoJo and Christina Milian, and with this song, Paula really shows that she belongs on the charts right there along with her pop peers. This is one of those songs that gets better with each listen, and I am really glad that I gave Paula another chance; she’s got a great little pop ballad on her hands with this one.

Bat For Lashes – Moon and Moon
[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_410_batforlashes-moonandmoon.mp3]
Finally today, I wanted to bring you something a little bit more subdued than the other tracks featured today. I have been enjoying Bat For Lashes’ most recent release Two Suns (which was released on Tuesday) all week, and this is my favorite track from the CD. The ethereal nature of her voice and the beauty of the arrangement of this track really brings up memories of my favorite Feist songs, and as such, really makes me glad that I gave Bat For Lashes a listen. The rest of the album is quite diverse, at times going from what sounds to me like old Fleetwood Mac, and other times, going all of the way to the other side of the spectrum, invoking a bit of Bjork for some unexpected electronica (or folktronica, as I believe it is called). Overall, the entire album is a great listening experience. This is one of those “hey, you’ve heard of her right? Isn’t she amazing!?!” artists, and I am extremely glad to spread the word about how much I have been enjoying Bat For Lashes. NOTE: Yes, I have seen lots of reference to Kate Bush with regards to similarities; however, believe it or not, I have never listened to Kate Bush. I will try to remedy that, but I make no guarantees; I just wanted to acknowledge that I have heard their are similarities between the two.

So there’s your Friday five, folks! I hope you enjoyed these songs as much I have been enjoying them all week. As always, let me know what you are listening to, and as always, let me know what you think of my picks as well. Have a great weekend, and remember to check back for word about the Lady GaGa show I went to last night.

5SF: february 13

Eeek! Friday the 13th! Okay, so maybe not; it’s just a superstition that was turned into a series of horror movies, right? Either way, I have had a pretty decent day, and the weather is amazing outside, AND I am going into a 3 day weekend, so I am pretty happy about it. I have to say, that I love doing these five song Fridays, because it is like a “welcome to the weekend!!!!”, and there is no way that could be anything other than awesome, right?! Well, let’s get to it then, shall we!?

Alesha Dixon – Breathe Slow
[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_213_aleshadixon-breatheslow.mp3]
This song has hit written all over it. The first couple of times I heard it, I knew that there was something about it I kind of liked, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Well, after massive rotation on BBC Radio 1, I have fallen head over heels in love with this track, and had to feature it this week. Alesha Dixon had some success in the UK in the R&B girl band Mis-Teeq, but recently released quite a decent solo album. This is by far my favorite song on the album, and I am thankful to BBC Radio 1 for turning me on to this great track! Also, best of luck to Alesha as she heads to Africa to scale Mt Kilimanjaro for Malaria relief!

Lady GaGa – Fashion
[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_213_ladygaga-fashion.mp3]
Alright, if you don’t get it by now, Lady GaGa is massive. HUGE. I have been screaming about her for almost a year now, and I am so pleased to see her getting the attention she deserves. Well, it seems like her steam engine has caught on fire, as there are all kinds of tracks spilling onto the tracks these days. The most recent is this amazing song from the Confessions of a Shopaholic soundtrack, appropriately called (and all about) Fashion. Lady GaGa’s blend of dance-pop is such a great, upbeat sound that it is hard not to bounce about when listening to great pop songs like this one. I’m glad that she released it, instead of Heidi Montag, which was what I had seen swirling around the internets. Hooray for new GaGa! Also, if it is going to all be this good, keep it coming!

Morrissey – I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris
[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_213_morrissey-imthrowingmyarms.mp3]
Now, I know that this will probably piss someone off, but normally, Morrissey just bores me. Now, that doesn’t mean that he isn’t a fabulous artist, but for whatever reason, his voice usually hits the “go to sleep” button in my brain, and I have to shut it off. However, with this new song, Morrissey has made me sit up and pay attention; with my eyes and ears wide open! It’s peppy, fun, and the video is down right cute! It makes me wonder where the depressive Morrissey has gone; although, the lyrics definitely have his typical sardonic twist, but this time, they are juxtaposed with a, dare I say it, upbeat pop backing track! I must declare that I love this song, and I might have to go back through his catalog and see if I can find other moments that are as peppy as this song is.

Joanna Pacitti – 4th of July
[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_213_joannapacitti-4thofjuly.mp3]
Okay, I’ll admit it. I watch American Idol. Mostly, I like to see who’s good and who isn’t, and by the time they get to the top 12, it is all gravy because most of those kids are pretty good. Well, with the recent crop, there was this one chick who stood out; both because she had a great singing voice, and also because there was a lot of press about her having a record deal prior to her auditioning this season. Well, it all came to a head, and unfortunately got her the boot from the show, which kinda sucks I guess, because she had made it to the top 36 as of this week. Well, I was talking to my friend John last night about her previous records, and he informed me of a song she did for the Legally Blonde soundtrack that was actually quite good. After listening to that song, we headed to iTunes, and low and behold, they have some of her songs (although not that particular one… poop), and this one struck me instantly. It is brilliantly sung and totally beautiful. I hate that Joanna got booted from AI, but I hope that the publicity can get her back on track to making more great music like this. Keep going Joanna, and don’t give up!!

Lily Allen – He Wasn’t There
[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_213_lilyallen-hewasntthere.mp3]
Oh Lily, how I have missed thee!!! Ever since I saw her in concert a couple of years ago (check out the pictures!), I have been a massive fan. Well, after there was word that she would be releasing a new album at the beginning of this year, I began to get more and more excited to see what Ms. Allen would have in store for us on her second record. After the release of the massive single, The Fear, my anticipation only grew, because I knew that I was going to be getting more of the Lily that I had fallen in love with on her debut. Well, as I mentioned last week, her album came out this week, and more great Lily Allen is exactly what I got. I love a lot of the songs on the album, even if they borrow heavily and sample heavily several other popular songs through the ages, and this one is definitely one of my favorites. I love that “playing on an old record” scratchy sound, and as always, her lyrics will make you smile and really show her writing ability to be pretty keen. I’m glad that her album is so good, and I am glad that it is finally out; I was tired of waiting! Also, as a heads up, I just noticed that on Amazon.com, they has It’s Not Me, It’s Youon sale for $3.99!! That’s a steal!

So there’s another five songs on this very nice Friday for you. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed bringing them to you! Now, let me know what you thought, and as always, tell me what you are listening to!! You never know when you will see it on the list!

the 31 best of 2008 – 3: Lady GaGa – The Fame

This should honestly be no surprise for most of the readers of this blog. It is no secret that Lady GaGa took me by storm this year, and the fact that she is FINALLY blowing up is a great indicator of just how amazing she is. Before the summer had even started, I heard the MASSIVE track, Just Dance, and it was at that moment that I knew that I wanted to know everything about Lady GaGa, because she was clearly the fiercest thing I had heard or seen in a very long time. Well, Just Dance was such an earworm, that I went on to declare it my song of the summer, and rightly so; I couldn’t get enough of the track. This led to a build up of extreme anticipation for more GaGa, which should have been met with elation upon the late July release of her debut, The Fame.Buzz started to swirl about GaGa on the internet, and snippets of amazing track after amazing track began to surface; all of which added to my extreme anticipation for this potentially fantastic album. Well, something went awry, because her record release date was bumped by a few MONTHS, and it was then that I was just met with more and more frustration; apparently, the record company gods did not want me to get my GaGa fix as planned.

In this day and age, that proved to be a fatal mistake; once the record hit shelves in Canada, the album leaked onto the internet, and it was everywhere overnight. They should have released it everywhere at the same time, which would have probably helped album sales, but once again, the record companies have proven that they don’t know what they are doing. Regardless of record company politics, I couldn’t resist, so I downloaded the album, and let me tell you, that it was everything that I could have hoped for and then some. Led by the amazing pop party anthem Just Dance, The Fame contains some of the freshest, most innovative pop music of 2008. It is clear that Lady GaGa is a powerhouse when it comes to song writing and when she teamed her efforts with Red One, the result was some amazing pop music. For the better part of this year, Lady GaGa has been the one that I could not say enough about; and when I FINALLY got my hands on her debut, The Fame,I knew that all of my anticipation and hype was very well placed. Ladies and gentlemen, Lady GaGa is the real deal; a new member of royalty has been born in the family of pop.

It is almost funny, though, that it has taken this long for people to finally sit up and take note of this pop diva; her massive first single Just Dance has only just recently found its way to the top of the charts. While it was annoying to see so many ignoring this amazing album, I am glad that people are finally catching on to what is clearly the next biggest thing to happen to pop music (seeing her on TV last night for New Years really made me smile!). Seeing her perform live, only further increased my love and adoration of her music and her talent. She has proven with her album and her continued act of pure disco fueled rock glam that she has the talent and the drive to bring the best pop music possible to the table; and with The Fame,she has done just that.

Lady GaGa has an uncanny ability to write a hook that is so sharp and so crisp that it will get inside you like nothing else, and it will not let go until you are dancing about. The only misstep on this album, for me, is the inclusion of the complete filler track, Eh Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say), which isn’t at all what I consider bad, but is completely overshadowed by the innovative, in-your-face brilliance of every other track. Also, it really deserves noting, that given the aforementioned issues with her record release date(s), Lady GaGa has proven that she has a few tricks of her own up her sleeve to keep it fresh, and to keep herself from succumbing to record company politics; she managed to release her album with additional tracks in almost every market, and each one only added to the brilliance the album already showcased (Starstruck is one of the best songs on the album). Without any duds (even Eh Eh is catchy and by all standards, a very good track), this album soars above many of the other pop records that were released this year, and if her recent surge in popularity is any indication (Grammy Nod!), it looks like 2009 might be a very, very good year for Lady GaGa; hopefully, better than 2008 was.

Sparkle Factor:
Standouts: Poker Face [audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/ladygaga-pokerface.mp3]
Just Dance, Starstruck, The Fame, Love Game, Boys Boys Boys, Brown Eyes, Money Honey.

5SF: october 31

I guess this is the Halloween edition of five song Friday, not because it is Halloween themed, but simply because it is happening on Halloween this year. I am wearing a cute orange shirt today that has three ghosts on it, and when you turn off the lights, the word boo glows in the dark. It was too cute to pass up… and it was orange! I guess Halloween should be a favorite holiday of mine, since orange is everywhere, and it is an excuse to eat lots of candy, but I never really get into it to be honest. We are going to give out candy, and check in on our neighbor’s party, but that’s about it. Whatever you are up to this ghoulish “holiday”, rest assured that I have some great songs for you today, none of which have anything to do with Halloween, but are great nonetheless. Alright, here it goes…

Horse Feathers – Curs of Weeds
[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_1031_horsefeathers-cursofweeds.mp3]
I first heard Horse Feathers on the indie channel of XM, and I thought they were mellow and delightful. I downloaded their most recent release, and after hearing this song once, I freaking loved it. The vocals remind me of the smoky/raspy vocals of artists like Ray LaMontagne, which are coupled with a backing female vocal that take something beautiful and make it gorgeous. The delicate nature of this song just makes me want to close my eyes and absorb it all. The violins are achingly beautiful, and the tenderness and composition of the instrumentation is fantastic. The rest of the record is quite good, and being that this song was such an instant favorite, I am happy that I could share it this week. I love discovering stuff like this.

Nicole Scherzinger Pussycat Dolls – I Hate This Part
[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_1031_pcd-ihatethispart.mp3]
Now, I was originally a skeptic of PCD, but they wouldn’t go away, and eventually, I was lured into their pop web, and ended up becoming somewhat of a fan. Given that I loved the first single off of Doll Domination (When I Grow Up) so much, I had to give the rest of the record a chance, and in my time with it, I have found several great songs on the record. However, my favorite BY FAR, is this amazingly beautiful ballad that pretty much proves what we knew all along; not only is Nicole Scherzinger the voice behind the Pussycat Dolls, but she pretty much NEEDS a solo career. Seriously. Watch the video for this song. She’s definitely carrying this group, and that doesn’t bother me; so as long as they make fantastic songs like this one. I just hope that Nicole is happy, and keeps bringing the goods like she is doing here. Damn she sings the shit out of this song; just listen at about 3:10 in… wow.

P!nk – I Don’t Believe You
[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_1031_pink-idontbelieveyou.mp3]
As I mentioned earlier this week, I was excited to snag P!nk’s newest album, which came out on Tuesday, and I will say that this record is definitely a grower. With the first listen, I liked it, but with each subsequent listen, many of these songs are really sticking with me in a great way. This song in particular is beautiful, heartbreaking, and perfect for her smoky voice. I have liked P!nk for a long time now, and with this record, she has just further solidified her fan base; it is a great album, and is already among my favorites of this year. I hate that she had to endure a break up, but at least she was able to channel some of that energy into making Funhouse such a great record.

The Saturdays – Work
[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_1031_saturdays-work.mp3]
I was originally skeptical of the Saturdays (lots of skepticism this week!); mainly because I felt like they were a bit of a Girls Aloud wannabe. However, their first single, If This Is Love, found it’s way onto my ipod, and I found myself really liking it, and even featured it on a previous five song Friday. My buddy Stu (thanks Stu!!!!!) insisted that I check out the rest of their record, Chasing Lights, and I am VERY glad that I did. There are some very well produced pop songs on that record, and Work, by far, is my favorite. That chorus is just fierce. Girls Aloud have definitely got some competition from these beauties; but I am willing to bet that the world has room for more than a few studio-produced girl pop super groups, right!? With songs like this, I know that I definitely have room for them on my ipod!

Lady GaGa – Starstruck

[audio:http://www.duanemoody.com/audio/fsf_1031_ladygaga-starstruck.mp3]
Okay, it is no secret that I love Lady GaGa. I gushed yesterday about her amazing performance on Wednesday night, as well as her CD’s release earlier this week (FINALLY!), and since it was such a GaGa week, I felt compelled to bring at least one more track from her amazing record to the table. This song was the song that she closed with the other night, and she fucking tore it up! In fact, since the show, I have been playing this banger on repeat. This song is a new song for fellow GaGa fans; it was one of the two new songs that she put on her already impressive record for release here in the states. I have to say, that she definitely has my vote for best new talent of 2008, and if she keeps churning out impressive pop like this, she is going to be bigger than huge. I am so glad that I got to see her live in such an intimate setting, and I was (and still am) starstruck by the amazing Lady GaGa. Also, make sure you go and check out the video for Poker Face, the second AMAZING single from The Fame… it is FIERCE!

Well, there you have it; another week on the books, and five more songs to tantalize your ears. This week ranged all the way from the acoustic to the banging-est beats, and I hope that everyone found a little something that they enjoyed. As always, let me know what you are listening to, and let me know what you think of these tracks! Have a safe and happy Halloween!!!