Top 8 Resolutions for the New Year via the 80’s


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Well, it’s that time of year again… the time of year where we take inventory of our lives and figure out ways to improve our existence. These changes are called “resolutions,” and they’re always fun to come up with because (let’s face it) they rarely ever last past the first two months of the New Year.

I’ve been pondering my own resolutions, and I’ve created a list of eight things I’d like to improve upon. Eight is a pretty big number for resolutions, but I figure that the more I come up with, the more likely ONE of them will make it through the elimination process.

How many of you have resolutions? More importantly, how many of you have KEPT your resolution for 2008?

I’ve decided to list my personal resolutions by way of music… 80’s music, to be specific. This is actually a double-category article because A) it’s a list and B) it deals with the 80’s. Pretty sweet way to cap off the year!

Here, in no particular order, are my Top 8 Resolutions for the New Year via the 80’s. Please feel free to share your resolutions below!!!!

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Self Control – Laura Branigan

Who here wants more self control? Laura Branigan did way back in 1984. Check out these telling lyrics:

I live among the creatures of the night
I haven’t got the will to try and fight
Against a new tomorrow
So I guess I’ll just believe it
That tomorrow never comes

HUH??????????

Sorry, Laura, but I have no idea what you’re talking about… But if 1+1=more self control, then I’m on board!

For some, “more self control” may refer to things like food, emotions, their checkbook, or even laundry. For me, I want more self control over the urge to kill a little stuffed bear named Sherman.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Self Control (Laura Branigan)

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Vacation – Go-Go’s

I know that we’re in the midst of the holiday season, but I would LOVE a vacation. When I say, “vacation,” I don’t necessarily mean a trip to the Bahamas or a chance to go backpacking in some foreign country, I just mean that I would love some time to myself.

This would not even require me to leave my house.

The Go-Go’s had the right idea here. Look at that album cover… they’re all dressed up in their fancy outfits… water skiiing… that’s the life, and I, for one, want a piece of it.

Maybe in 2009 I’ll figure out a way to grab some more “Swap Time.” It’d kinda be like “Hammer Time,” except without the hot dancing girls, the big parachute pants, the “uh-oh, uh-oh!” part, and the cool camera angles.

Basically, it’d be just me, sitting on a couch, flipping through channels, wondering to myself, “Why, in the name of Zeus’ beard, did I ever discontinue the Playboy Channel????

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Vacation (The Go-Go’s)

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Hard Habit to Break – Chicago

When David Foster took over the production for Chicago, the band seriously hit it big. It hit it SO big, that the city Chicago actually renamed their city “Chicago” to honor the band, Chicago. A hit movie was also made out of the same name, and a pizza style was also developed to celebrate the band’s success.

Chicago 17 was actually the very first Cd I ever owned. I thought I was the coolest cat in the world because I owned a Compact Disc. I brought it to school and showed it off to all the hot chicks. Nobody was too impressed, but one girl DID say to me, “Who cares? Get away from me!”

THAT was cool.

I know this has nothing to do with what my New Year’s resolution is… so for 2009, I will break my most annoying habit: cracking my knuckles.

Oh, it’ll be a hard habit to break.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Hard Habit to Break (Chicago)

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What Kind of Fool Am I? – Rick Springfield

In 2009, I vow to stop being so stupid.

I’ve often asked myself the question, “What kind of fool am I?” after I accomplish some monumentally stupid feat, like pouring out boiling hot water into a plugged up sink, then sticking my hand INTO that boiling hot water to UNPLUG the sink. Yep. Brilliant.

How I am going to achieve this is still unknown to me, but maybe if I keep tabs on the smart things I do compared to the stupid things I do, I can look back and say, “I had more smart things than stupid things, so I must be smart!”

A lot of you are probably shaking your heads, thinking something like, “Swap, just by DOING that would be a stupid move.”

Crap.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: What Kind of Fool Am I? (Rick Springfield)

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We Will Win – Minmei

Anyone here remember Robotech? It’s perhaps the greatest story ever told next to Star Wars. I was totally in love with Lynn Minmei, the single greatest vocalist EVER.

“We Will Win” is a perfect song for my next 2009 resolution: to be more positive.

I’m not normally a Negative Ned, but I know that I can get down at times… for example, I didn’t think the San Diego Chargers would make it to the playoffs this year. Wouldn’t you know it, though, they won their last four games, blowing out Denver and clinching a spot in the post season.

OUTTASITE!!!!!

If I were more positive, I would have kept believing in them… LT actually called me up and asked me why I wasn’t sending the team good vibes. I felt awful.

So for 2009, I will remain positive and believe that everything WILL be alright.

And The Chargers will win the Super Bowl!

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: We Will Win (Minmei)

Buy Robotech on Amazon

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R.O.C.K. in the USA – John Mellencamp

In 2009, I will ROCK more.

Yes I will. I most definitely will.

I don’t know how many of you know this, but I have some of my own music up in the store section here at TheFrontloader.com. You’ll find some home demos of mine… just me and my guitar… and you’ll find my work with The Downtown Moneywasters. If you haven’t checked it out already, please do!

Lately, though, I feel as if I’ve been writing more ballads than rockin’ stuff. I’m a big fan of the ballad, but I miss balls-to-the-wall rockin’ like Dokken music. So for 2009, I will write more rockin’ music.

And I will dust off that Telecaster and turn it up to eleven. Maybe twelve.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: R.O.C.K. in the USA (John Mellencamp)

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Strength (acoustic) – The Alarm

Now to the serious matter… in 2009, I will be stronger with my faith.

And that’s all I have to say about that. Man, I just felt like Forrest Gump.

Here’s a cool acoustic version of The Alarm‘s “Strength,” as performed by their lead singer, Mike Peters. This is off Peters’ solo Acoustic Alarm Standards release which carries a whopping twenty-two tracks.

It’s a great listen from one of my favorite 80’s bands.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Strength (acoustic) (The Alarm)

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Jessie’s Girl – Rick Springfield

My last resolution for 2009 is: I will attempt to show the world why Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” is the GREATEST SONG EVER WRITTEN.

I believe that, in any concert setting, you can get the crowd going just by playing the opening riff of the song. And once you hit the line, “Jessie is a friend,” you’ve got the audience in the palm of your hand.

ANY concert setting.

Luciano Pavarotti could belt out an opera-style “Jessie’s Girl” and the crowd would go nuts. Women would faint. Your dad will fall in a can of paint.

Go ahead and try it… sing “Jessie’s Girl” opera-style… you know you want to.

DO IT.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Jessie’s Girl (Rick Springfield)

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HAPPY NEW YEAR from all of us at TheFrontloader.com! See you in 2009!

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Featured Artists of 2008 (Part II)


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Here are the final five artists and bands that were featured here on TheFrontloader.com in 2008. As I said before, all of these artists are worth discovering (or revisiting)… so if you missed them the first time around, here’s your chance to catch up!

Follow the links to the complete article and show them some love with a comment.

New artists will be featured starting January 5th, 2009.

GASOLINE HEART
Featured November 17, 2008

I used to shuffle the songs in order to come across unknown or forgotten songs in my collection, and this time worked like a charm. A song came on that caught my ear and I had to go see who the hell it was.

I stood there for a while, trying to remember where I had come across this particular band before. It took about fifteen minutes before it clicked. This last year when I was on tour with Bo Bice, we had a few shows in Florida, the home state of this week’s Featured Artist, Gasoline Heart.

I can’t recall how I got their Cd, probably grabbed it at a venue somewhere… but I do remember spinning it in the bus and thinking “Coolness!” thus adding it to my iTunes. In his Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame speech to induct U2, Bruce Springsteen said that “Bands come together by accident, but they don’t stay together by accident.” Gasoline Heart is a great example of that point […]

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SALLY JAYE
Featured November 24, 2008

Los Angeles based singer/songwriter Sally Jaye has put together quite a record with her 2007 release, Amarillo. Sally Jaye’s music falls nicely into the Americana / Alt. Country genre and leans towards the folky side of things while still incorporating bits and pieces of country and bluegrass.

There’s a stillness to Amarillo, and I absolutely love the atmosphere to the record… it’s poignant, reflective, longing, yet altogether peaceful. She caters to the song, and put together a team that helped bring the songs to life. As Jaye explains, “If you can get together the right musicians, engineer, producer, people…everyone brings their heart, soul, and artistic point of view, and then you have something. I was lucky because my band, engineer, and producer all brought my little songs out of my head, and made them into music.” […]

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LEVI WEAVER
Featured December 1, 2008

Over the summer, a friend of mine handed me Levi Weaver’s debut album, You Are Never Close to Home, You Are Never Far From Home. My initial reaction was “Dude, what’s with the long-ass title?” Are you trying to one-up Fiona Apple for the longest album title ever? Why, I could break that title down to just “You’re Never Close/Far To/From Home.”

Nah, that doesn’t quite work.

I’ve been playing it since then, and I have to admit… it’s definitely made a huge impression on me… to the point that Mr. Weaver is this week’s Featured Artist here on TheFrontloader.com. Levi Weaver has lived on both sides of the world. Born in Colorado, raised in Texas, moved to England for a spell, then returned back to the states, ending up in Nashville, Tn. His bio is an interesting read […]

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KEVIN SO
Featured December 8, 2008

Through the magic of CDBaby, I came across Kevin So’s album Leaving the Lights On. Being Chinese myself, I was looking for other Asian-American artists to check out… I was interested in hearing what other Asians were writing and singing about… I ended up finding a wealth of them out there, which was GREAT to see.

Ultimately I picked up So’s album because A) it was a double-album, and B) it wasn’t PRICED as a double-album. Yeah, I was really cheap like that (still am). The Cd arrived a few days later, but for some reason, I left it sitting in the envelope for about a week before opening it up. This might have been the week when the San Diego Chargers clinched the AFC West (dude, what HAPPENED to them this year???), but anyhow, man alive I’m glad I finally spun the record […]

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CORREATOWN
Featured December 15, 2008

The first time I saw Angela Correa perform was in 2002 at a San Diego coffee shop called Twiggs. It was a quiet evening of about three performers (including me). I played my set first, then someone else, then Angela. She took the stage in a very unassuming manner… I remember that she didn’t even announce who she was.

In retrospect, she didn’t need to really say anything, because her music was so incredibly captivating. I sat and watched her through her entire set, and felt compelled to go talk to her afterwards. I’m sure Angela doesn’t remember me, but I distinctly remember telling her that she played a “cool” set. Yeah, I said, “That was a cool set!” Pretty dorky.

Her debut album, Red Room Songs, was a necessity for my music collection […]

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The Black Crowes: Horsehead

I remember sitting around with some band members way back in 1999… we were all huge fans of The Black Crowes, and couldn’t wait to hear their fifth studio album, By Your Side. We all picked up the record on it’s release day, but decided to listen to it together in order to “share in the Crowes’ experience as a band.”

After spinning the Cd, some of us praised the Crowes for going back to the basics found on their debut album, Shake Your Moneymaker, while some of us were hoping for a more experimental approach a la Amorica. Regardless of where we stood, though, we had to agree that it was a blessing to have more Crowes music in the world.

By Your Side showed that the Crowes still had the ability to write tight, concise, radio-friendly songs, spawning the hit, “Kickin’ My Heart Around.” This track reached number 3 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, and was followed up with “Only A Fool,” which peaked at number 7. The album was generally well received by critics and fans alike, and climbed up the Billboard charts to number 26.

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One song that stood out for me was “Horsehead,” mainly because of the monstrous riff that was the backbone of the song. I’m a sucker for Wah-guitar as well… Rich Robinson had me at that first guitar “chicka.” I’ve posted the original version below in the Dig-It section… if you are not familiar with this song, I highly recommend hitting “play” on that track right now to hear what I’m talking about.

Man alive, when Steve Gorman comes in with the snare drums… MAN ALIVE!!!!!

“Horsehead” also features a return to the gospel-infused female backup vocals for the band, a quality that I thought was so defining in their Southern Harmony record. I love how the female vocals sing the main lines of the chorus while Chris Robinson ad libs in between… VERY cool. It all ads to the meaning of the song.

To this day, I still don’t know exactly what a “Horsehead” is, but judging from the lyrics, it can’t be good.

Horsehead, feel your soul fall
Horsehead, gonna take a dive
Horsehead, ain’t no good at all
Horsehead, said you’re gonna die

I once had a discussion with a fellow Crowes fan about the meaning of a “Horsehead.” He reminded me of the scene from The Godfather, where Jack Woltz wakes up to find his horse’s decapitated head laying next to him in his lush bed. My friend explained that the horse head was left there as a reminder to “play ball” with the Godfather.

So we concluded that a “Horsehead” was a symbol of deviance.

This interpretation actually makes sense when you take a look at the chorus of the song:

You are blessed with just one life
All you are is what’s inside
If you take, then step aside
Jesus gave until he died

These lyrics are telling me that you should always make sure that you’re contributing to society. The line “Jesus gave until he died,” isn’t necessarily saying “Live like Jesus,” but rather it’s just a reminder of what one can accomplish when one exercises generosity.

Getting back to the gospel-infused female backup vocals mentioned earlier, and how this quality ads to the meaning of the song… I guess one could argue that the song is talking about faith… it certainly fits the bill here. Chris Robinson sounds like he’s up on the pulpit, preaching to the masses, while the choir backs him up… if you hold that image in your head during the song, it definitely makes sense.

If any of you have your own interpretation of the lyrics, I’d be most interested in hearing it!

You’ll find two different acoustic versions of “Horsehead” below in the Dig-It section. One is an AWESOME acoustic studio recording that features just the two Robinson brothers. Chris’ vocals are sung through what sounds like a harmonica microphone (maybe a Green Bullet? All you gear-heads out there… what do you think?), which brings a heavier, dirtier vibe to the lyric. It’s a cool contrast to the clean slide guitar playing of brother Rich. One of my favorite parts of the song is at the end when the song takes a tangent… take a listen and if you don’t have this in your music collection, don’t forget to download it!!!!

The other version is a live performance from the Brothers of a Feather: Live at the Roxy that involves the two Robinson brothers and a couple of amazing female vocalists. Rich Robinson uses a clean electric guitar here (so I guess it’s not ACTUALLY acoustic), and plays the song more in line with the original recording.

These two versions are a great example of how versatile The Black Crowes are in their musicianship. The first version is simpler, yet retains the integrity of the song. The second is, as stated above, more in tune with the original version, and shows just how powerful the song is on its own.

Take a listen and if you haven’t already, go get some Crowes‘ music.

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Your Dig-It Downloads: (right click links to download)

Download: Horsehead (original version)
Download: Horsehead (acoustic)
Download: Horsehead (acoustic live)

This Week’s Top 5 Most Played Songs From Swap’s iTunes


The Rules: I reset the play counters for all the songs currently on my iTunes. Then at the end of every week, I check to see what the top five most played songs are. Whatever happens to be in this top five are then presented in order here from most played to least. If I have posted a particular song in the past, then I will bypass that song and post the next in line. If one artist dominates the list, then I will write about that artist in lieu of a Top Five list.

I hope you all had a most memorable Christmas! We took a few days off here at TheFrontloader.com… thank you all for checking on us to see what’s been going on!

We couldn’t let this week finish without our weekly This Week’s Top Five Most Played Songs From Swap’s iTunes, though!

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I can’t recall what made me pick up the debut album from The Kings of Leon. I think it was from an article I had read about one of my favorite producers, Ethan Johns. The article listed some of the artists Johns had or was working with… I wish I had bookmarked that piece because at the time, it was one of the only interviews from Johns.

I believe I also picked up Leona Naess‘ self-titled 2003 album because of that article.

Hmmm… Kings of Leon and Leona Naess… see a pattern? Maybe I should start calling myself Swapmeet Leon.

“Crawl” is off of The Kings of Leon‘s fourth album, Only by the Night. This record is somewhat of a departure from their previous three in the sense that it feels more produced. I totally dig it, though, and hope they continue on this path. There have been complaints that the album is “too commercial,” but after making three albums that pretty much stick with the same sound, a band is bound to want to change and develop.

Whether “too commercial” is the way to go is not my call… but the album has been nominated for the Grammy’s Best Rock Album category… not too shabby, if you ask me.

“Crawl” was the most played song this week for me… I listened to it eleven times.

Your Dig-It Download:
[audio:http://www.thefrontloader.com/downloadsforreaders/kingsofleon/1-02 Crawl.mp3]Download: Crawl (Kings of Leon)

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Grace Potter and the Nocturnals was one of the first bands that I discovered through music sites. I have yet to hear them on the radio ONCE, but that hasn’t stopped them from gaining tons of fans from music listeners to critics alike. Their album, Nothing but the Water was one of my favorite albums of 2005, and the follow-up This is Somewhere has remained a regular spin for me since it’s 2007 release.

Fueled by Potter’s soulful vocals, their sound is reminiscent of the great jam bands of the 60’s and 70’s… which is fine with me because well, that’s awesome.

Grace Potter and The Nocturnals have made it on the Top 5 Most Played songs before. I didn’t write that much about them that first time other than “Check them out or die.” I’ll do a bit better this time around and say, “Check them out or really die.”

“Here’s to the Meantime” was played nine times this week.

Your Dig-It Download:
[audio:http://www.thefrontloader.com/downloadsforreaders/Grace Potter/09 Heres To The Meantime.mp3]Download: Here’s to the Meantime (Grace Potter & the Nocturnals)

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Ok, don’t laugh, but this is a GREAT song.

Everybody has their own guilty pleasures, and most of mine come from the 80’s. T’pau took their name from a Star Trek episode. I am (un)fortunately NOT a Trekkie, as I believe that the Star Wars universe can demolish anything in the Star Trek world. I would rather be a Jedi than anything in Star Trek because of one word: Lightsabers.

Anyhow, T’Pau hit the charts in 1987 with their hit, “Heart and Soul.” I remember listening to Casey Kasem’s countdown show when the song hit… Kasem talked about how many songs had the title of “Heart and Soul.” I forget the actual number he stated, but I remember it was a BIG number.

I always dug T’Pau’s “Heart and Soul” because of Carol Decker’s voice. Plus, the rap part in the verses is ultra sexy because well, Decker is pretty sexy-licious herself.

The song hit #4 on the Billboard charts, making it their biggest and only hit in the US.

T’Pau released three albums and split in 1991, but Decker reformed the band (with a completely new lineup) in 1997 and recorded an album, Red, in 1998. This album featured a new version of “Heart and Soul” called, appropriately enough, “Heart and Soul ’97.”

I played this song seven times this week.

Your Dig-It Download:
[audio:http://www.thefrontloader.com/downloadsforreaders/tpau/01 Heart and Soul.mp3]Download: Heart and Soul (T’Pau)

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Bon Iver‘s latest release, For Emma, Forever Ago has been one of the more interesting listens for me. The record was conceived by the main force behind the band, Justin Vernon, during a three-month secluded stay in his father’s remote cabin.

The album has been well received, gaining much critical praise and has ended up on several “Best of 2008” lists like that of Rough Trade.

It took me a while for the cd to grow on me, but in the end I’ve found it to be one of the more revealing albums of the year. According to Bon Iver’s bio, “All of his (Vernon) personal trouble, lack of perspective, heartache, longing, love, loss and guilt that had been stock piled over the course of the past six years, was suddenly purged into the form of song.”

Explaining the sound of the album, “the record was created entirely by Vernon with nothing more than a few microphones and some aged recording equipment.”

It’s amazing how many artists are recording their own albums in their own settings… it just goes to show you that big studios aren’t always the way to go in order to capture the essence of one’s art.

“For Emma” is a stark listen… very inspiring to for all artists.

Your Dig-It Download:
[audio:http://www.thefrontloader.com/downloadsforreaders/boniver/08 For Emma.mp3]Download: For Emma (Bon Iver)

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There is no doubt that Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem stands as one of the greatest bands ever created. Their sound has influenced generations, including every single band that you like. They practically created the genre of every style of music in existence, and they continue to define, innovate, and evolve.

Take a listen to “Can You Picture That?” and rediscover this amazing group. They’ve got it all – multiple vocalists, tasty musicianship, catchy tunes, groovy grooves, a crazy drummer… all of this comes together to create one of the most recognizable sounds.

On a personal note, I wish I could be a part of this band. I’ll play ANY instrument… even the triangle. Plus, I’d do anything to be near Janice. She is HOT.

There’s nothing left to say except DIG IT.

Your Dig-It Download:
[audio:http://www.thefrontloader.com/downloadsforreaders/muppets/17 Can You Picture That_.mp3]Download: Can You Picture That? (Dr. Teeth & The Electric Mayhem)

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TheFrontloader.com will return to daily posts soon… like everyone else, we’re just enjoying the holidays! If you haven’t checked out the latest posts, you’ve probably missed out on a new one by Sherman in his Box O’ Chocolates section. Go read it here!!!

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Have You Been Naughty or Nice?

It is no secret that I am a well-traveled bear. I have stood at the top of K2, swam the depths of the Marianas Trench, and have even danced onstage with Michael Jackson. What? You do not believe me about the Michael Jackson claim?

Feast your eyes on THIS:


Look at me go!!!!

I used to be the lead-choreographer for Jackson’s world tours. I left that position because Michael wanted every number to end with “Jazz Hands,” and frankly, after about three “Jazz Hands” moments, I had had enough.

People often wonder why a little bear (such as myself) needs to travel so much. Well, the answer is simple: I am a needed bear. As you probably already know, I have been a consultant to a great number of celebrities, politicians, kings, queens, barons, dukes, generals, majors, pimps, captains of industry, robber barons, even mythical AND mystical beings.

Like Santa Claus. Yes, Santa Claus.

alt textSherman & Santa at the World’s Christmas Parade 1995

Every year, Santa contacts me to ask for my help in deciding who is naughty and who is nice. He flies me first class to the North Pole (Santa made the mistake of flying me in coach once, and I got so upset that HE ended up with coal in his stocking) and puts me up in my own suite with 24 hour room service. I usually ask for about a dozen female elves to keep me company, they are AMAZING in bed and I have myself a grand old time.

This year, Santa and I had difficulty finalizing the Naughty/Nice list. We usually see eye-to-eye regarding this matter, but this year, we simply could not agree whether this person got coal or a nice present in their stocking come Christmas morning.

Santa’s “Ho Ho Ho” first turned into “Ho Ho,” then “Ho,” then finally a resounding “Little bear, YOU SUCK.”

I was VERY upset with this and racked up a $9247 phone bill to various 1-900 numbers on Santa’s personal phone line. Mrs. Claus was NOT happy with Santa. I, on the other hand, discovered that I had much in common with a certain Anna “Bang Me” Bella from 1-900-SEXORGY… we are planning on getting together after the New Year so that I can discover just how naughty she has or can be.

Things became exceptionally heated right before the annual Naughty/Nice press conference Santa holds for NPTV (North Pole TV). This is usually when Santa and I triumphantly announce that we have completed the Naughty/Nice list, and that Christmas is a definite “GO” with no further delays. Santa and I usually give each other a big hug, the film crew follows me as I board my plane back to the United States, and all is wonderful.

Well, right before the press conference, Santa comes up to me and says, “Sherman, you owe me an apology for ruining Christmas.”

“How did I achieve this monumental feat?”

“Mrs. Claus won’t believe me that YOU are responsible for that phone bill, and therefore she won’t give me my Christmas quickie.”

“Your lack of a quickie was not because of the phone bill, it was because she was too tired from spending the night with me!”

We walked into that press conference and really did not say much. Santa faked a decent “Ho Ho Ho,” I waved and tried to act as pleasant as I could. I do not think the elf population bought it, though, because when we were asked to pose for a picture, this was the end result:

So now I sit here, wondering if Bill McKenzie of 1572 Tatorama Drive, Idaho, will get coal or a nice present for Christmas. You see, Santa and I did not resolve this last Naughty/Nice issue before I left… so Billy, let us hope Santa rules in your favor.

Are YOU now worried about your Naughty/Nice status? You did not know that I was a determining factor in this decision, did you? Now you are going to be nicer to me, are you not?

I will give you a hint on how I decide who is naughty and who is nice… the nice ones exceeded the $200 mark in Sherman Bear donations.

What was your end total this year?

Tsk, tsk… better start saving up for 2009.

Good day, good luck, and Merry Christmas.
– Sherman

Bruce Springsteen: Blue Christmas in Asbury Park


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It’s Christmas Eve already! Is all your holiday gift searching done, or did you have to go out today to fight the frantic last-minute-shopping crowd?

If you’ve got a Springsteen fan on your gift list, here’s a great idea for a present: A Bruce Springsteen Christmas show!

Our buddy Matt over at AddictedToVinyl.com reminded me of this great bootleg by the one and only Bruce Springsteen. This is an excellent show that features The Max Weinberg 7 (the house band from Conan O’Brien).

The sound quality is EXCELLENT, as are the performances. It’s wonderful hearing horns with Springsteen’s songs, and his renditions of some classic Christmas songs always make up a good time.

There’s a ZIP file available of the complete show right there in the Dig-It section! Yes, we’re going to start ZIP-ing the big shows to make things a bit easier for you good people.

Everyone here at TheFrontloader.com wishes you a very Merry Christmas! Thank you always for making us a regular part of your Internet day. Keep spreading the word!!!

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Your Dig-It Downloads:

Download: Jingle Bells
Download: For You
Download: Blue Christmas
Download: Powerhouse
Download: Run Run Rudolph
Download: Lucky Town
Download: The E Street Shuffle / Move On Up
Download: Kitty’s Back
Download: Rose
Download: As Long As I Can Be With You
Download: This Time It’s For Real
Download: Good Is Gone
Download: All I Needed Was You
Download: Shine Silently (Nils Lofgren)
Download: Merry Christmas Baby
Download: So Young and in Love
Download: Roll of the Dice
Download: Bobby Jean
Download: Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
Download: My City of Ruins
Download: I Don’t Want to Go Home
Download: Rosalita
Download: Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Featured Artists of 2008 (Part I)


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There are only about two weeks left until 2009, so I thought I would do a recap of the Featured Artists here on TheFrontloader.com. All of these artists are worth discovering (or revisiting)… so if you missed them the first time around, here’s your chance to catch up!

Follow the links to the complete article and show them some love with a comment.

New artists will be featured starting January 5th, 2009.

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SWEETTOOTH
Featured October 12, 2008

My first time at a Sweettooth show is something I’ll never forget. I’ll always remember the moment they tore into “Bleeding Nerve”… as my scalp slowly started peeling off, I thought to myself, “MAN ALIVE!!!!!” and for the next hour or so I hung on every note they played. Snatching up their four song EP afterwards only made me hungry for more. When I heard that they were in the process of recording their first full length album, I thanked the Gods of Rock and anxiously awaited its completion.

So when I was sent their self-titled record a couple of months ago, I wasted no time in ripping off the plastic and popping it into my Cd player. I have to admit that the packaging really caught my eye (big tip for artists: YES, packaging matters). Weighing in at a hefty thirteen tracks, the record packs a punch that resonates deep in your bones […]

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THE CATHRYN BEEKS ORDEAL
Featured October 19, 2008

Desert Music is the first release by The Cathryn Beeks Ordeal. This acoustic-driven album blends a rootsy mixture of folk, rock, blues, Americana, pop, and country, demonstrating Beek’s dynamic range and versatility not only a singer, but as a songwriter as well (she co-wrote all the songs on the album).

The musicianship on the album is impeccable, courtesy of The Ordeal: Matt Silvia (rhythm guitar), Jeff Johnson (bass), Rob Garbowski (drums, percussion), Marcia Claire (flute, mandolin), Becky Flemming (alto sax) and Will Bonner (lead/electric guitar). I was fortunate enough to see them live before moving to Nashville, and upon receiving the record I was overjoyed that they stayed true to their sound and feel […]

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PHONOGRAPH
Featured October 26, 2008

It hasn’t taken long for New York’s Phonograph to make an impression in the music industry. Since forming in 2005, the band has achieved critical acclaim from Billboard magazine, American Songwriter Magazine, and The New York Times.

Phonograph is categorized in the Alt. Country genre, but as singer Matthew Welsh explains, “Even though we’re known more for an alt-country aesthetic… we want a healthy balance between interesting psychedelic sounds and good old wholesome American songwriting.” I was immediately hooked on their music as it reminded me of Wilco’s journey into experimentation in their Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album […]

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THE COMING GRASS
Featured November 3, 2008

Ever since hearing Uncle Tupelo’s No Depression album, I’ve been a big fan of the Alt. Country genre. There is something about the way Alt. Country blends country, blues, rock, punk, and folk that really “speaks” to me. I’m always on the lookout for new bands in this style, and when I find one I like, I generally tend to stick with them to see how they develop.

Back in 2002, a friend of mine in San Diego recommended a band called The Coming Grass. All he told me was that the drummer from Wilco at the time (one of the more popular Alt. Country acts) played on The Coming Grass’ album, Transient […]

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BREE SHARP
Featured November 10, 2008

Bree Sharp signed her record deal fresh out of college at NYU. Originally an acting major, she turned to writing and performing songs because hey, why not. Cheap and Evil Girl was released in 1999 and hatched two singles: “David Duchovney” and “America.” Although the album hit the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart (#47), the album did not find the same success on the Top 200 chart.

The “Duchovney” song found its way to David Duchovney on the X-Files set. He dug the song (who wouldn’t like a song written about them?) and was heard playing it daily. Two production assistants, Will Shivers and Charles Forsch, made an unofficial video for the song that featured many celebrities lip-syncing the song […]

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Top 6 Mellow Songs of 2008


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It’s close to the end of 2008… this is the time of year where a bunch of “Best of 2008” lists come out. Rolling Stone magazine just released their Top 50 Albums of 2008 list, and LargeHeartedBoy.com has compiled a great “Best of 2008” compilation from various other blogs.

I’m going to contribute my lists to the lot, but I’m going to do things a bit differently here. These lists will be based off of the number of plays as stated on my iTunes/iPod. The logical conclusion would be that the higher the play count, the more I liked the song.

I am sure that many critics will disagree with me when I say that a great song is one that has high re-listenability. Sure, it’s great to come across a release that has some sort of innovative production, style, or performance, but when it comes down to it… it’s just a song. How many times can I listen to the song over and over again without getting sick of it? THAT, my friends, is the mark of a GREAT song.

So here are, according to my iTunes/iPod, my Top 6 Mellow Songs of 2008.

Keep in mind, these are the Top 6 MELLOW Songs of 2008, so there are NO fast, hard-rockin’, head-bangin’ songs on this list.

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Sally Jaye – Amarillo

Sally Jaye was the featured artists here on TheFrontloader.com a few weeks ago. If you missed that article, you can check it out here.

Her latest release, Amarillo, has become one of my favorite albums of 2008. I love the sound, the stories, the songs, and pretty much everything else about it. One of my favorite songs of the year is the title track off the album, “Amarillo.”

I haven’t had the album for long, so I was shocked when I saw that I had played the track “Amarillo” a whopping 211 times. WOW. That’s a LOT of plays. I mean, I know that I’ve been spinning it a LOT for the past few weeks, but 211 times??? WOW.

To make more sense of this, let me break it down for you:

The song is about 5 minutes long, which translates into 1055 minutes spent listening to this song.

1055 minutes turns into almost eighteen hours.

EIGHTEEN HOURS.

That places “Amarillo” at the top of this list. No other mellow song came close to this. I absolutely LOVE this song, though, which makes this entirely A-OK with me. The guitar solo KILLS me every time I hear it. Here is the song again, in case you missed it the first time around.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Amarillo (Sally Jaye)

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Idaho (live) – Josh Ritter

Since this list is based off of my iTunes/iPod play count, it would make sense that not all the songs were necessarily released in 2008. In 2006, Josh Ritter put out a live album, In The Dark: Live At Vicar Street. This record was in support of his astronomically excellent collection, The Animal Years.

I guess I loved the opening track to the live album a LOT, because I played “Idaho” 174 times, according to my iTunes play count.

This is such a great version of the song, though. The cd opens with the roar of the crowd, and then a quite hush sweeps across the venue as the lone droning note takes center stage. It’s just Ritter, his guitar, and an organ… and they capture the crowd throughout the entire performance. It’s a risky way to open a show because most people want to come out with a BANG, but it works quite nicely here.

I prefer this live version of “Idaho” to the album recording, as I thought the album’s was TOO empty.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Idaho (live) (Josh Ritter)

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9 Crimes – Damien Rice

Here’s another song that wasn’t released in 2008. “9 Crimes” comes off of Damien Rice‘s 2006 album, 9.

Although I didn’t like this record as much as I enjoyed his debut, O, I thought he did a bang-up job with the opening track. He did such a bang-up job, that I played the song 166 times this past year.

The line “And is that alright?” always grabs me for some reason.

Lisa Hannigan’s harmony vocals have always added depth to Rice’s music, which is probably another reason why I listened to “9 Crimes” so much. Their voices work so well together, it’s a shame that they have both since parted ways professionally.

I’m not too surprised that this song made it on the list. It’s one of those songs that creeps up on you… there are times when I leave it on repeat and just enjoy the mood it creates.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: 9 Crimes (Damien Rice)

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Horizon – Rachael Yamagata

I wrote about Rachael Yamagata‘s latest record, Elephants… Teeth Sinking into Heart a while back, and it has remained a regular spin for me ever since. I still prefer the “Elephants” side…

“Horizon” is my favorite track off the album… all eight minutes and fifteen seconds of it. I think this is where Yamagata shines the most, as the song is just a great marriage for her melody and voice. The sultriness of her vocals makes it hard to turn away. I’m actually listening to the song right now and loving every second of it.

“Horizon” was played 109 times this last year, placing it at the number four spot of the Top 6 Mellow Songs of 2008.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Horizon (Rachael Yamagata)

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Goodbye – Emmylou Harris

If I had done this list every year for the past thirteen years, “Goodbye” by Emmylou Harris would have probably made it every single year.

Originally penned by Steve Earle, “Goodbye” is one of the most heart-wrenching songs I’ve ever heard. Emmylou Harris’ production of it is simply GORGEOUS and, in my humble opinion, far surpasses the original recording by Earle.

Producer Daniel Lanois(U2, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson) work on Wrecking Ball helped secure the Best Contemporary Folk Album Grammy in 1996, which also aided in Harris’ revival as an artist. “Goodbye” is a wonderful example of why that album earned such high praise.

I don’t know why I like sad songs so much… maybe because sad songs say so much. Hmmm… that would be a GREAT song title… what? It’s already been used?

CRAP!

“Goodbye” was played a total of 97 times in 2008.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Goodbye (Emmylou Harris)

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Jessie’s Girl (acoustic) – Rick Springfield

You know, I don’t even CARE if this song didn’t actually MAKE the list, it deserves to be here simply because it’s the greatest song EVER WRITTEN. Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” gets an overhaul here, complete with slide guitar and a different vocal line, but it’s still the same awesome song that has won every award since it’s release, INCLUDING the Nobel Peace Prize.

Don’t ask me how it won, just understand that it DID win.

According to my iTunes play count, I played this version fifteen times this past year… sure, there were plenty of other songs that beat it, but who cares because it’s JESSIE’S GIRL, man!

Dig it and show your friends how cool you are because you have an acoustic version of the greatest song ever written by man.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Jessie’s Girl (acoustic) (Rick Springfield)

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If you’ve never paid attention to the play count on your iTunes or music player, you’re missing out on a great resource to see what you ACTUALLY like. It’s a great tool, and I highly recommend utilizing it.

Be on the lookout for more lists up to the New Year… I’m amazed on what I’m discovering about my music listening habits… makes me REALLY wonder what kind of music I like!!!!!

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Foamfoot: Live From The Troubadour, Jan. 8, 1994

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If you know a performer, you’ve probably heard this before… you’ve probably heard about the rush of being on stage… you’ve most likely been told about the exhilaration of applause, the addiction of that certain connection you feel with the audience… and you’ve undoubtedly sat through the conversation about how, if they could, they’d love to be on stage every night.

Every. Single. Friggin’. Night.

Well, being a musician myself, I can honestly say that I’m guilty of feeling all those things, and I’m guilty of forcing my friends to sit through all of those conversations. My friends usually respond to these extensive conversations with statements like, “Wow, you have such passion inside of you,” or “That’s so great that you love something that much,” or “Dude, I was only asking if you wanted a Coke.”

Therefore, it makes perfect sense to me when artists do what they can to stay on the stage.

In 1994, members of The Black Crowes, Cypress Hill, Jellyfish, The Jayhawks, and The Ju Ju Hounds got together to play a show at The Troubadour in Los Angeles. They dubbed themselves “Foamfoot” and were essentially a cover band. Here is the breakdown of the members:

Chris Robinson- Black Crowes
Marc Ford- Black Crowes
Andy Sturmer- Jellyfish
Jimmy Ashhurst- the JuJu Hounds
Eric Bobo- played w/ Cypress Hill, Beastie Boys
Gary Louris- The Jayhawks

The fortunate thing is that this show was recorded and sounds GREAT. The unfortunate thing is that there really isn’t any more information about this night except for what I’ve written above. I’ve scoured the web for something, ANYTHING about that specific date, but the only thing I have come up with is the interesting fact that Valeri Polyakov began his 437.7 day orbit on the Soyus TM-18, setting the world record for most days spent in orbit.

Yeah, that has nothing to do with Foamfoot… that’s how little information there IS about the group.

If you’re a huge Crowes fan, you probably already have this bootleg. I’m tellin’ you – it sounds GREAT. The song selection is excellent and deep, even pulling out relatively unknown tracks like “Jemima Surrender” from The Band. Marc Ford‘s guitar playing is crisp, raunchy, and full… he truly is one of the best rock guitarists out there.

The show’s recording was originally intended for release, but that obviously didn’t happen, as this bootleg has been circulating for years.

“Foamfoot” is such a cool name. When other musicians and I want to do the same thing as Foamfoot, we’ve tossed around names like “Little Jug” or “Dastardly Devils.” Yeah, not as cool.

I don’t consider Foamfoot a “Supergroup,” because they didn’t try to write any originals, they just went out there and played music they love. Sometimes that’s all the reason you need to get on stage, because that’s the whole point to being a performer: to share the art.

Sometimes, who cares who made it up.

Enjoy the show. I’ve listed the original artists next to the song title.

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Your Dig-It Downloads: (right click to download)

Download: Walk in My Shadow (Free)
Download: Bottle Of Red Wine (Derek and the Dominoes)
Download: Tin Soldier (The Small Faces)
Download: Take The Highway (Marshall Tucker Band)
Download: Deal (Jerry Garcia)
Download: Love Me Til The Sun Shines (The Kinks)
Download: Long Time Gone (with David Crosby) (Crosby, Stills and Nash)
Download: Jemima Surrender (The Band)
Download: One Way Out (The Allman Brothers)
Download: Presence of the Lord (Blind Faith)

Links to Buy:

Buy The Black Crowes on Amazon
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Buy Jellyfish on Amazon
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Buy Cypress Hill on Amazon
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Buy Beastie Boys on Amazon
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Buy The Jayhawks on Amazon
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Buy JuJu Hounds on Amazon

This Week’s Top 5 Most Played Songs From Swap’s iTunes


The Rules: I reset the play counters for all the songs currently on my iTunes. Then at the end of every week, I check to see what the top five most played songs are. Whatever happens to be in this top five are then presented in order here from most played to least. If I have posted a particular song in the past, then I will bypass that song and post the next in line. If one artist dominates the list, then I will write about that artist in lieu of a Top Five list.

First off, I’d like to take this opportunity to announce the winners to the Contest Giveaway Contest!!!! Thanks again to all for playing… I wish you could have ALL won, but alas, there can only be one winner… or in this case, three.

GRAND PRIZE WINNER – Mike W. (WOO HOOOOOOO!!!! Don’t spend it all in one place!)
SECOND PRIZE WINNER – Lulu1001 (see what happens when you play? Congrats!)
BONUS PRIZE WINNER – RustyDomino (Outrageously outrageous!!! You did it!)

Here are the correct answers:

1) Pac-Man Fever – Buckner & Garcia
2) What if I Leave – Rachael Yamagata
3) There and Back Again – Sweettooth
4) Amarillo – Sally Jaye
5) Girl in the War – Josh Ritter
6) Human Touch – Rick Springfield
7) Walk Believer Walk – The Black Crowes
8) Brick House – The Commodores
9) Rock and Roll – Led Zeppelin
10) Wishing Well – The Airborne Toxic Event

See? Wasn’t too hard, was it? 😀

By the way, if you’d like to listen to the snippets again, click here.

Ok… let’s get on with This Week’s Top Five Most Played Songs From Swap’s iTunes!

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I always get excited when I hear any bootleg from Led Zeppelin. There’s a power to Zeppelin music that comes courtesy of the Bonham/Jones rhythm section, and this performance of “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” is a shining example of just that.

The true tragedy of this post is that I do not have ANY information on this bootleg, only that it “kicks ass” and is “Rockin’ like Dokken.” So if anyone out there has the digs on this recording, PLEASE spill the beans.

“Nobody’s Fault But Mine” is off of Zeppelin’s seventh album, Presence. The song is considered one of their best, and was a major part of their live show from 1977 to 1980.

I’ve always dug this song… the syncopated rhythm part has got to be one of the coolest sections ever committed to tape. If you’re not sure of what part I’m talking about, it happens at 1:50. When I was a kid, I’d sit at the stereo, rewinding that part over and over again, trying to figure out the timing. Even now, whenever I hear that part, I have to tap it out on my knee because it’s just the coolest part ever.

One thing that is so outrageous about this live recording is how frikkin’ TIGHT Bonham and Jones are. I LOVE the stops in the song. LOVE THEM.

This live boot of “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” was played nineteen times, making it the number one song of the week.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Nobody’s Fault But Mine (live)

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I wasn’t too keen on Brad Paisley when he first hit the charts with “Celebrity.” Although the video was very funny, I thought the song was a novelty. His albums have been quite excellent, however, my favorite so far being his 2005 album, Time Well Wasted.

The track “When I Get Where I’m Going” hit me like a ton of bricks when I first heard it on the radio. Maybe it was the timing… I was on tour somewhere in the northeast with Stephen Cochran… thousands of miles from home… sitting next to the window seat, watching the beautiful scenery fly by. The sun was going down, some of the other band members were sleeping, I was in full-blown reverie, and this song comes on.

I’ll always remember that moment.

My first thought upon hearing “When I Get Where I’m Going” was “Man, now I have to pick up Paisley’s album.” I guess that sums up my opinion of the song.

I played the tune fifteen times this week.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: When I Get Where I’m Going

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Collective Soul has always caught my ear. They’ve had some GREAT songs like “The World I Know” and this week’s number three selection, “Shine,” and every now and then I feel the need to spin their first two albums in tandem.

Does that ever happen to you? Not necessarily with Collective Soul, but with some other band? It’s a phenomenon that I can’t quite explain because there’s no rhyme nor reason for it.

In this case, why Collective Soul??? Why not some other band? Now, I’m not knocking the band, I’m just wondering why THEM. It’s kind of like my sudden craving for Coke. NOTHING else will do… it’s HAS to be Coke. If you even DARE hand me a Pepsi, I will have to take that can or bottle and shove it up your nose and you’ll look like Ah-nold in Total Recall. Remember that scene where he has to pull the homing device from his brain?

GAH. That was a scene I could do without.

And while I’m at it, how many people here were completely FREAKED out by the Johnny Cab guy???

Anyhow, I played this live boot of “Shine” thirteen times this week. So close to being number two… sorry, guys! Maybe next week!

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Shine (live)

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Gladshot‘s latest release, Burn Up and Shine, is definitely a fun listen. The group is made of two main individuals, Debbie Andrews and Mike Blaxill. They both share vocal and songwriting duties, which makes the album quite interesting to listen to because their styles are as distinct as their genders.

The mix works, though, and in Burn Up and Shine they’ve certainly proved their strong grasp of the pop-rock style that I do so enjoy.

“Early Light” has a great chorus, and I found myself playing the song over and over again just to get to that payoff. It wasn’t until I looked at the playcount did I realize that I listened to the song ten times in a row. That’s over a half-hour of hitting “rewind.”

The rest of the album is just as catchy, and I’m actually glad I had to leave or else I would have sat there for a much longer time, hitting “rewind” to every song.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Early Light

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“Oh My Sweet Carolina” is, hands down, my favorite song by Ryan Adams. I don’t care what mood I’m in, this song pierces me every single time I hear it. I probably have more versions of this than an other in my Ryan Adams bootleg collection, and I’m always on the lookout for more.

It’s not hard for me to understand why this is my favorite Adams song… for one thing, the chorus is just absolutely gorgeous. The lyrics make me long for whatever he’s talking about… which is weird because I’m not from either of the Carolina states. That’s how good the song is.

Oh my sweet Carolina, what compels me to go?
Oh my sweet disposition, may you one day carry me home.

GAH! I get goosebumps just TYPING those words out.

This last week I found a live acoustic performance that I didn’t even realize I had. The recording is EXCELLENT, so if you’re a fan of Adams, make sure you grab this recording. Even if you’re not sure who the heck Ryan Adams is, GRAB THIS RECORDING.

Man, I wish I wrote this song.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Oh My Sweet Carolina (live acoustic)

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Christmas is just around the corner… music always makes a wonderful gift. We here at TheFrontloader.com hope that this site has turned some of you onto new artists. Please support them by purchasing their merchandise or by attending a live show…

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