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[Repost] Top 30 Songs by U2


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***** Since U2 released their Songs of Innocence album, I’ve been listening to their back catalog a bit more often. I came to the realization that the new record simply isn’t something I would reach for. That may sound harsh, but it’s just how it is. Their music catalog is rich with some timeless songs. The strength of Songs of Innocence will be tested, and perhaps in 10 years it will be considered a classic. In 2014, though, it’s a clunker.

So to celebrate my love for U2, I’m reposting my top 30 U2 songs. You’ll notice that nothing from the new album made it to the list. What’s your list?

*****

30. Out of Control

When I first heard U2’s debut album, Boy, “Out of Control” was the song I gravitated towards. Looking back, I can see why… I guess at the time I was going through the “finding myself” phase of youth, and this song made me feel not so alone. “Out of Control” remains one of U2’s best early anthems, and besides… The Edge’s guitar work here is out of control!

29. When Love Comes to Town

This duet with B.B. King came about during U2’s exploration of the blues. Although I’m not quite sure if they ever got it right, they did write an awesome song and got to perform with a living legend. The lyrics are what gets me here. I love the lines “I held the scabbard as the soldier drew his sword,” and “pale as the lace of her wedding gown.” Bono was at his descriptive best here, creating a desperate and dirt-beneath-your-feet feeling with each line he and B.B. spat out.

28. Sometimes You Can’t Make it On Your Own

The title alone nails it square on the head for me here. I love the simplicity here, and although Bono doesn’t possess the same growl or power as he used to, he sounds as sincere as ever. I love the line, “let me take some of the punches for you tonight.” I once read that this song came from something Bono’s dad said to him. Even rock stars need their dads at times.

27. Bullet the Blue Sky

I remember reading about “Bullet the Blue Sky” in the LA Times review of The Joshua Tree. The writer went on and on about how The Edge’s guitar sounded so Zeppelin and Hendrix-esque, and how it was such a change in direction for the sound of U2. When I finally heard the song, the main thing that got to me was Larry Mullen, Jr.’s powerful drumming. That drumbeat is the basis for the song, not the guitar.

26. Love is Blindness

For a while, “Love is Blindness” was the only song I listened to. I would put on my headphones and drift off… I was mesmerized by the thicker-than-molassas bassline… a tone that the band once described as sounding like the “center of the earth.” (U2 by U2) Edge’s guitar solo (one of his famous one-note solos) has so much anger/passion in it that it counterbalances Bono’s delicate delivery. The whole song bleeds and makes you realize that love needs your pain to live.

25. Gloria

The first time I heard “Gloria” was when some music video show starring Richard Blade (remember him?) played the video. There was U2 on some small barge, rocking out to anyone who would listen. It was a strong image and it stuck with me long enough to ask my mom if I could get the October record. That Christmas, I found the album under the tree and thought to myself, “Man… Santa Claus likes U2?? AWESOME!” Yes, I still believe in Santa Claus… don’t you? In the Red Rocks version, I kept thinking Bono was saying, “This is the age!” when he introduced The Edge. He, of course, was saying, “This is The Edge.” Hey, give me a break. I still believe in Santa Claus.

24. In a Little While

“In A Little While” has one of the best guitar parts The Edge has ever written… and I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but if you listen closely enough at the start of the song during the solo guitar introduction, you can hear the drum track in the background. It’s faint, but it’s there. The line, “In a little while, this hurt will hurt no more” was my mantra for the longest time. I think this song solidified the influence gospel music has on U2.

23. Like a Song…

If “Sunday Bloody Sunday” isn’t a “rebel song,” then “Like a Song” most definitely is. Larry Mullen, Jr.’s drumming is the driving force again, and Bono sounds as pissed as a drunk camel. When Bono sings, “Honesty what you want??” you know that U2 is going for broke not only in this song, but the entire War album. To me, “Like a Song” is where U2 bared their soul the most on War. Take a listen if you’ve forgotten just how powerful this song is. The drums tell the story… listen to how he alternates the ending pattern… un-frikkin’-believable. You don’t even need anything else to understand what they’re going after here.

22. Kite

I’m THIS close to weeping like a baby when Bono sings, “I’m a man, I’m not a child” in the bridge. It’s not so much a declaration here… it feels more like Bono reassuring himself than anything more. I’m not sure if I’m right, but that one line helps me remember that no matter how old we get, no matter how strong we are, and no matter how much power we (seem) to possess, we’re all the same souls in search of peace.

21. “40”

Words cannot express the beauty in this song. We have the band Minor Detail to thank for “40.” It seems that they were going to kick U2 out of the studio on the last day of the War sessions. So U2 asked for just two more hours in order to record their last song, even though they had nothing to play. Someone suggested editing an abandoned track… they took the bassline and Bono opened the the Bible to Psalm 40. Edge, explains, “… within forty minutes we had worked out the last few elements for the tune, Bono had sung it, and we mixed it. And literally, after finishing the mix, we walked out through the door and the next band walked in.” (U2 by U2, p. 137.)

20. Walk On

”Walk On” was written for Aung San Suu Kyi, praising her on her works in Burma. I thought it was a good song when I first heard it, but it wasn’t until the devastating events of 9/11 that I realized how incredible ”Walk On” is. The song became more than it was intended to be and lifted the spirits of not only Americans, but pretty much everyone else that came around at the time. It was amazing to witness the birth of an anthem. I’ll never forget it.

19. Silver and Gold

Here’s where I think U2 succeeded in creating their own style of the blues. ”Silver and Gold” is a kick in the crotch to Apartheid… it finds Bono in one of his angriest performances, and I think it truly opened the doors for fans to really understand what he was always talking about in his concert political quips. I’ve always been a bit partial to the Sun City version because it actually sounds like solitary confinement. The full band studio version kicks ass, though… Edge did a great job re-imagining his guitar for the recording.

18. One Tree Hill

”One Tree Hill” is, amazingly enough, one of U2’s more personal songs. Dedicated to Bono’s personal assistant Greg Carroll, who died one rainy night while delivering Bono’s motorcycle. Bono recorded this song in one take because he didn’t think he could perform it multiple times… it is a true testament to how far he came as a vocalist. Take a listen again and keep in mind that it’s ONE take. No overdubs. Just him and the microphone in ONE take. If anybody ever doubted his vocal abilities, they need to hear this song.

17. The Fly

Here’s the song that made me realize that U2 would be around forever. ”The Fly” went against EVERYTHING U2 had done in the past… from Edge’s guitar tone to Larry Mullen, Jr.’s drumming, to the groove of Adam Clayton’s bass, all the way to how Bono stayed in the lower register of his voice for the crux of the song. It was like the opposite of The Joshua Tree in most every way. Bono even sang from a different character’s perspective, something I don’t think he did in past albums. Yes, after hearing ”The Fly,” I knew that U2 would always be around (knock on wood).

16. Drowning Man

”Drowning Man” has one of early Bono’s most passionate vocal performances. I used to consider this his best vocal recording… not because he has the best tone, but because I thought it captured all the pain, longing, anger, frustration, struggle, and everything else that he kept writing about. The instrumental is really just two chords, but the vocal line is what matters here, and that violin at the end just pulls at my heartstrings (like it should). Lyrically, ”Drowning Man” can be seen as a message from one lover to another, or it can be one from God… and that makes it even more powerful to hear.

15. MLK

Some of you might be wonding how ”MLK” placed higher than say, ”The Fly,” but keep in mind that this is MY list, not yours. ”MLK” showed that Bono was truly coming into his own as a singer. This massively delicate song gave Bono the courage to NOT be Bono in songs like ”Mothers of the Disappeared,” and yes, even ”The Fly.” I think ”MLK” is just as important to the U2 canon as their hits, even though it’s perhaps the shortest and quietest U2 song out there.

14. Tomorrow

To me, ”Tomorrow” is a foreshadowing of the Eno/Lanois production team. This song felt like it was completely misplaced on the October album because of the atmosphere it created. Up until then, U2 didn’t have an “atmosphere,” they came out rockin’ like Dokken. It wasn’t until The Unforgettable Fire that the influence of ”Tomorrow” would surface. Truly a classic… and the lyrics were some of young Bono’s most chilling as he recalled his mother’s death:

Outside, somebody’s outside
Sombody’s knocking at my door
There’s a black car parked on the side of the road
Don’t go to the door, don’t go to the door…

13. New Year’s Day

Although it’s true that the piano was used in earlier songs like ”October” and ”I Fall Down,” I think it was ”New Year’s Day” that really broke that instrument into the foreground for U2. The Edge has always (and still does, I think) favor the Yamaha electric pianos… it has a distinct sound that is kind of a cross between a real piano and a Fender Rhodes. ”New Year’s Day” showed that U2 could rock yet still have color and beauty between the lines. Plus, it was a hit for them… and that always helps.

12. All I Want is You

Bono once remarked how he felt ”All I Want Is You” surpassed ”With Or Without You.” Although I don’t quite agree, I can see his point. It’s incredibly touching and the music is absolutely gorgeous… the lyrics sum up what love is/should in that I want these things in a relationship, but when it comes down to it, all I want is you. That’s the truth, and if we can remember what it was like to love for the first time… well, that’s probably the purest love we have ever felt. The Edge’s ending solo is one of his best, even though it’s really, REALLY simple, and Van Dyke’s string arrangement take the song into another dimension. This is an essential U2 track in every sense of the word.

11. God Part II

Here’s what Bono had to say about ”God Part II,” and why it’s so important to U2: ”There is a verse in there, ‘Don’t believe in the Sixties, the golden age of pop / You glorify the past when the future dries up.’ This is on an album [Rattle and Hum] in which we are exploring roots music. That might be a little close to the bone. The whole song came out of a moment where I was worried about what we were doing. That song doesn’t actually belong on Rattle and Hum. It is really the first song on Achtung Baby. I’d come to the end of nostalgia, that’s the clue.” (U2 by U2, p.207)

10. Where the Streets Have No Name

This is the ultimate concert opener, and the ultimate concert picker-upper. ”Where the Streets Have No Name” started off as an experiment by The Edge to see if he could make a song in 3/4 turn into 4/4. The sessions for this song were difficult to the point that producer Brian Eno wanted to erase the track and start completely over. That never happened, so what you hear is hours upon hours of frustration. U2 feels that they finally “nailed” the song when they play it live. I wholeheartedly agree.

9. I Will Follow

Being a young, stupid high school student, I thought it would be cool to write the chorus of this song on the chalkboard one morning before English class. So I went up to the board, scribbled what I thought was the chorus and sat down. When I looked, what I had written was: ”If you waka way, I will follow.”

I have NO idea how to “waka way,” but I think Fozzie Bear might have a clue. I felt like an idiot… thank GOD nobody said anything.

8. Acrobat

Bono described ”Acrobat” as ”a song about your own spleen, your own hypocrisy, your own ability to change shape and take on the colours of whatever environment you’re in, like a chameleon” (U2 by U2, p. 228). It remains one of his favorite songs, but never became a live favorite because ”I don’t think that is what people come to U2 for,” as The Edge puts it (U2 by U2, p. 228). I put ”Acrobat” in the top 10 because I think this song defined the band during the Achtung Baby to Pop years. They put on so many facades and masks during that time, but still expected their fans to believe in their hearts-on-your-sleeve nature. It was a challenge that paid off big time.

7. Bad

”Bad” used to be my favorite song of all time. I can’t recall why I attached myself to this song so deeply considering it’s about drug addiction… I think the line ”I’m wide awake” encompassed me during my youth, and it just stuck. One thing I noticed not too long ago is how Adam Clayton’s bass makes a flub at 3:11. You can hear him ever so slightly miss a beat. If you have the studio version, check it out. ”Bad” was the centerpiece for U2’s Live Aid appearance and helped catapult them into the superstars they were on the verge of becoming. This song should probably place higher, so don’t hate me because it’s at #7.

6. Moment of Surrender

”Moment of Surrender” is, hands down, the best song by U2 in the last… well, the last 19 years. Producer Brian Eno calls it “the most amazing studio experience I’ve ever had.” I call it f***in’ brilliant. Bono takes on the character of a drug addict question his faith, and delivers some of the most powerful lyrics in his career. ”It’s not if I believe in love / If love believes in me,” “My body’s now a begging bowl that’s begging to get back,” and my favorite, ”Playing with the fire until the fire played with me,” all make up a desolate search for redemption and peace. It’s gorgeous, it’s epic, it’s what U2 is about.

5. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

Everybody knows this song. It’s one of the greatest songs ever written, and it all came from ME. Ok, that’s not exactly true, but I KNOW I’ve said those words, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for,” a bajillion times before Bono used them. I mean, I remember when I stood in line at the local Burger King… my buddy asked me what I wanted to order and I said, “Dude, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” I also remember making out with Holly Rutherford and trying to unclasp her bra… she asked me what the problem was and I said, “Baby, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” See? That’s MY line and I deserve some compensation.

4. Pride (In the Name of Love)

I remember when a friend of mine requested this song to be played at our high school prom. I was standing at the drink table at the time with my date… and when I heard the opening bars, I actually RAN to the dance floor, towing my date in hand. My buddy looked at me and said, “This one’s for you!” The amazing thing was that although the dance floor was still packed, nobody danced… we all just stood there and belted out the chorus at the top of our lungs. That memory will always stick with me… and that’s the power of U2. Their music may be difficult to dance to, but it will always, always, ALWAYS penetrate the soul.

3. Sunday Bloody Sunday

”Sunday Bloody Sunday” should be at #1 in this list, but it’s not because there are 2 more songs I like better than it. How’s THAT for a reason? HAHA! I never quite understood why Bono claimed that ”Sunday Bloody Sunday” isn’t a “rebel song,” because what he’s really doing is drawing a line between wrong and right, between good and bad, between love and hate. I’ll believe him, though, because he wrote the lyrics and I didn’t. Here’s another song that I believe Larry Mullen, Jr. owns… his drum part is The Dude’s rug… it tied the whole room together. Even Bono agrees: ”In a U2 song, the hook is not necessarily the guitar, or even the melody. It can be the drums. And on ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday,’ it was definitely Larry’s drumming that brought the song together.” (U2 by U2, p. 135) See how “in tune” I am with Bono? You should all start calling me “Bonoduex.”

This live recording is, to me, the ultimate performance of ”Sunday Bloody Sunday.”

2. One

I don’t think there’s any argument that ”One” belongs somewhere in the top 5. It’s the song that saved the band, and it’s the song that vaulted U2 into a level that nobody has been able to touch since. The funniest thing about ”One” is hearing Bono talk about it:

”’One’ is not about oneness, it’s about difference. It’s anti-romantic: ‘We are one, but we’re not the same. We get to carry each other.’ I’m still disappointed when people hear the chorus line as, ‘we’ve got to,’ rather than, ‘we get to carry each other.’ Because it is resigned, really. It’s not: ‘Come on everybody, let’s vault over the wall.’ Like it or not, the only way out of here is if I give you a leg up the wall and you pull me after you. There’s something very unromantic about that.

The song is a bit twisted, which is why I could never figure out why people want it at their weddings. I have certainly met a hundred people who’ve had it at their weddings. I tell them, ‘Are you mad? It’s about splitting up!”

1. With Or Without You

”With Or Without You” is my new favorite song of all time. I’ve listened to it everyday now for over a year… and with every listen, I find a renewed belief in what I’ve done and what I’m doing now. I think this song defines Bono as a person. I think this song is the reason why they were, and still are, the biggest band in the world. I think this song OWNS the chord progression I-V-vi-IV. I think a lot of things about this song, but most importantly, I think this song explains artists and their need to create… which makes ”With Or Without You” one of the most important songs ever written. I’m planning on doing a post dedicated to the meaning behind this song… look for it.

Well, that’s it! The whole Top 30 U2 songs! Thanks for indulging me and I look forward to revising this list as U2 continues their search for the perfect song.

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TheFrontloader.com’s Top 5 Favorite Songs of 2010


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Seeing as it’s New Year’s Eve, I thought I’d list TheFrontloader.com’s Top 5 Favorite Songs of 2010. Please keep in mind that these are favorite songs… not the “best” ones because let’s face it, who can say what were the best songs of 2010?

I based these selections on how I was affected upon hearing them for the first time – maybe the lyrics hit home, maybe the production did me good, maybe it simply came down to a groove that I couldn’t get out of my head and body. Whatever the case, this was an easy list to come up with…

2010 was a great year for music… I’m only sorry I didn’t hear everything… but you know what we always say here… so much music, so little time…

And that’s the way it should always be.

5. Dead Confederate - SugarRun From the Gun – Dead Confederate

Dead Confederate‘s “Run From the Gun” is simply a cool-arse song that has such a dark, gritty feel to it that reminds me of old black & white or even sepia looking pictures of yore. Off their Sugar album, I remember playing this song over and over again until Dead Confederate themselves called me up and said, “Dude… STOP PLAYING THAT SONG!!!”

They then popped in The Cutting Crew‘s “(I Just) Died in Your Arms” and forced me to listen to it for three days straight. Little did they know that THAT particular song is one of my guilty pleasures… hahaa!!!! The joke was on them… SUCKERS!

They fell for one of the all-time classic blunders – the most famous of which is “never get involved in a land war in Asia” – but only slightly less well-known is this: “Never go against a Crazy Asian when Cutting Crew’s “(I Just) Died in Your Arms” is on the line”! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha…

You can read our review of Sugar here. Excellent album.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Run From the Gun (feat. Ben Wigler)

Dead Confederate on: [Amazon] [iTunes]

4. The Tallest Man on Earth - Sometimes the Blues is Just a Passing BirdLike the Wheel – The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth is such a memorable name for an artist, isn’t it? I mean, it’s MUCH more memorable than, say… and I’m just making this up right now… Gay Witch Abortion, right?

RIGHT?

Man ALIVE… there really IS a band called Gay Witch Abortion!!!! Here’s their MySpace page!

You can’t make this stuff up, people.

Let’s see if I can do it again. I’m going to make up another band name and see if it actually exists… Hot Budapest.

Aw, crap… no band called Hot Budapest.

It’s not a bad name, though. DIBS!!!!!

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Like the Wheel

The Tallest Man on Earth on: [Amazon] [iTunes]

3. King of the BeachMy Morning Song (acoustic)- The Black Crowes

I don’t think I have to say much about this song. True, “My Morning Song” wasn’t written in 2010, but this acoustic recording was, so that means it counts and belongs on this list.

I loved the electrified version on The Black Crowes‘s The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion album… and this new arrangement from Croweology kicks just as much arse. It’s got the gospel mid section, the romping stomping piano, the groovalicious groove, and the slide guitar riff that even makes my MOM say, “That pretty cool.”

If you haven’t heard this version of the song yet, then you have GOT to hear it before it’s too late. Too late for what, you ask? Too late for YOU… because right now as you read this, someone is sneaking up behind you with a baseball bat and is about to smash the living daylights out of that spider that’s crawling up your head. Never mind that your head is going to be caved in… as long as that spider’s been taken care of, right?

So hit “play” NOW, MAN, NOW!!!!!!

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: My Morning Song (acoustic)

The Black Crowes on: [Amazon] [iTunes]

2. Strange Feelin’ in the Air – Ryan Bingham

Here’s another song with slide guitar. The only reason why Ryan Bingham‘s “Strange Feelin’ in the Air’ beats out The Black Crowes“My Morning Song” is because Buzz Lightyear said so. Don’t ask how that makes sense. It just does.

Speaking of Buzz Lightyear, did you ever notice how much he looks like Sarah Palin?

Don’t ask how that is, it just does.

Speaking of Sarah Palin, did you ever notice how much she looks like Buzz Lightyear?

And speaking of Buzz Lightyear, did you ever notice…

Man, I’m still bummed that The San Diego Chargers didn’t make the playoffs.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Strange Feelin’ in the Air

Ryan Bingham on: [Amazon] [iTunes]

1. All For You – Keith Urban

Keith Urban hit a home run with “All For You.” The first time I heard this song, I wept like a baby.

Like a frikkin’ baby.

And I’m man enough to admit that.

Off his latest release, Get Closer, “All For You” could be written off as a cheesy pop-country love tune, but it’s a must-hear in my book. I haven’t had a song hit me like this in a long time… it brings up so many memories, reservations, fears, desires, and dreams for me… it makes me wonder where the hell I went wrong… and more importantly, it makes me wonder if I’m ever going to get it right.

Get Closer was released in September, and although it’s nothing to write home about, it does have some memorable moments. The album cover pretty much sums up the record.

I’m sorry, but I have to say this again… country music has become so formulaic and predictable… turn on country radio and there’s as much variety as a box of raisins… it’s almost like they’re not even trying anymore… and this album cover is a good example of just that. Of all the images in the world, THAT’S the one that was chosen to represent the record?

That doesn’t say much about the record, and if you could judge an album by the cover, then Get Closer is no different from any other country album out now except that Urban doesn’t have anything on his head.

But “All For You” slays me. Hands down, it’s my favorite song of 2010. I hope you find something in it that resonates within you as well.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: All For You

Keith Urban on: [Amazon] [iTunes>]

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TheFrontloader.com’s Top 10 Favorite Albums of 2010


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Well, it is now December… the year is coming to an end so I thought it fitting to start posting some end-of-the-year-lists here on TheFrontloader.com, starting with our Top 10 Favorite Albums of 2010.

The thing to keep in mind with this list is that it in no way implies that these are the “best” albums of 2010. These are merely my favorite ones… the ones that I found myself playing over and over again because they possessed something that made me want more. It was a good year for music, that’s for sure.

I look forward to what 2011 brings. So without further delay, here are The Frontloader.com’s Top 10 Favorite Albums of 2010!!!!!

10. Mumford and Sons – Sigh No More

Yep… still love this record.

I was excited to see Mumford & Sons get the attention they deserve… especially since they don’t play pop music or anything that would be considered remotely mainstream. They make excellent music and their success shows that the music will always be what matters first.

Here’s what I wrote about it back in May:

Their sound is simply that huge. My “Is this band epic?” test is to see whether I turn my head to the stereo while listening. I mean, there’s really nothing to see while listening to music on the stereo, but usually if something REALLY grabs your attention, you tend to look at it… ever notice that? As if the artist will suddenly appear as tiny little people on your speakers or something, playing their little itty-bitty hearts out. So anyhow, that’s how I test to see if the band has epic-ness in them. And I stared HARD at my stereo throughout Sigh No More. I stared so hard that my stereo actually said, “What you lookin‘ at, punk?” which freaked the frikkin’ frik out of me.

I still feel the same way. Killer record.

Read the full post here.

[Amazon] [iTunesicon]

9. Neil Young – Le Noise

Le Noise comes back to haunt me every now and then… something clicks in my head and I have to play something from it… maybe it’s Neil Young‘s guitar… maybe it’s all the frustration I hear in the music… whatever it is, it lands at #9.

Back in September, I said this about the record: “There’s no glossiness to it… at times it’s darn right difficult to hear. It’s probably not an album that you’d ever sing to, that you’d ever relax to, it’s not even one that you would play for anybody else but yourself… but it’s a powerful record that, should you spend time with it, will be that sign on the door that says, “Enter If You Dare.” (read the full review here)

I’ve visited that dark place inside of me because of this record… I stumbled around a few times because it was so friggin’ dark… when I finally found the light switch, a bunch of Oompa Loompas jumped out from behind the couch and screamed, “Surpise!!!!!” but it wasn’t my birthday so they kicked me in the shins and told me to come back when it was.

Man, if you ever want a headspin, play this record in a dark room with a LOT of shadows.

[Amazon] [iTunes]

8. Tired Pony – The Place We Ran From

There’s nothing like a good, mellow yet epic-y album, and The Place We Ran From fits the bill for 2010.

This record seems to find its way into my ears without any effort. I play it while I’m cooking (cereal). I play it while I do my homework. I play it while I watch the San Diego Chargers romp their way into the playoffs (did you see them destroy Indy?).

I even play it when I’m LISTENING to it.

Believe it. Or. Not.

In our review of the album, I wrote, “It [the album] wouldn’t get in the way of anything that goes on, and in many ways it can enhance the moment in it’s relaxing sound,” back in October… for those of you that picked up the album, wouldn’t you agree with that statement?

The record is gorgeous to listen to. Oh, wait… I remember another time when I played the album… I played it during my trip to Jupiter.

Yes, 2010 was quite a year for me. Either that or those mushrooms I found in my backyard weren’t quite as harmless as I had originally thought them to be.

[Amazon] [iTunes]

7. The National – High Violet

Here’s a record we didn’t review. The National‘s High Violet has probably made a number of top 10 lists this year… it’s a grand piece of work that deserves every spot it lands in.

The record has been called “really, really, REALLY frikkin’ good” by my friend, Pip, and let me tell you something – Pip is one tough nut to crack. I mean, Pip hates EVERYTHING. He even hated Princess Leia in the slave outfit.

CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT????

We actually came to a fist fight because of that. Here’s how it started:

Me: Hey, Pip. Good to see you.
Pip: Say, do you have a Pepsi?
Me: YOU HATED LEIA IN THE SLAVE OUTFIT????? YOU BASTARD!!!!!!

I dunno… looking back on it, I think Pip was WAY out of line. He had it comin’, man.

[Amazon] [iTunes]

6. Sleigh Bells – Treats

LOUD.

That’s the one word I would use when describing Treats.

LOUD.

So loud that even Pete Townsend would say, “Excuse me, but could you turn it down? Just a bit, please?”

“Once you hear it, your perception of extreme will never be the same again,” is what I said about the album in October (full review here)

Since then, I’ve done a bunch of extreme things:

– I washed ONE sock while using the “Super” water usage setting on my washer
– I bought a $50 steak dinner and ate just one bite before throwing it away
– I jumped off a 100-inch platform with just a swimming pool beneath to break my fall
– I walked up to Sandra Bullock and told her I enjoyed her performance in The Blind Side.

That’s pretty extreme.

[Amazon] [iTunes]

5. Menomena - MinesMenomena – Mines

Menomena‘s Mines has definitely had a lasting effect on me. Ever since hearing it, I’ve had to rethink the whole songwriting process for me.

We reviewed the album back in August… here’s what was said about how they write:

An integral part of Menomena’s songwriting stems from the use of a computer program called Deeler (Digital Look Recorder) that one of the members, Brent Knopf, created himself. In an interview with InMusicWeTrust.com, Seim explains how they use the program: “First, we set the tempo of the click, which is played through a pair of headphones. We then take turns passing a single mic around the room. One of us will hold the mic in front of an instrument, while another one of us will lay down a short improvised riff over the click track. We usually start with the drums. Once the drums begin looping, we throw on some bass, piano, guitar, bells, sax, or whatever other sort of noisemaker happens to be in the room. Deeler keeps the process democratic, which is the only way we can operate.”

I’ve always been a “write a riff/groove and build on it” kind of guy, but these guys have such a unique way of writing that it makes me wonder what else is possible? I love this album for that… plus, it doesn’t hurt that the songs on it kick ass.

Read our full review here.

[Amazon] [iTunes]

4. Jamey Johnson The Guitar SongJamey Johnson – The Guitar Song

Man, I almost hated this record.

I mean, I was THIS close to writing a horrible review for it because it played on most every country music cliché in the book.

Just about the only country music cliché Jamey Johnson didn’t use was the one saying that he’s just a normal backwoods guy that got abducted by aliens and was then transported to another universe where ladybugs ruled and he had to fight his way out of his prison by fashioning a makeshift Lightsaber out of a bed spring, two loaves of moldy bread, and an Adegan crystal he just happened to carry around in his boot and after flying back to Earth, he decided that even though he went through all that, he’s STILL the same backwoods guy that wears boots, drinks beer, and drives a truck just like his daddy did.

Oh, you didn’t know about THAT cliché? Why, it’s all OVER those old Merle Haggard songs. Go take a listen and you’ll hear it.

Good thing I could look past that and enjoy the record, huh (full review here)? Yeah, I’m cool.

[Amazon] [iTunes]

3. Ryan Bingham - Junky StarRyan Bingham & The Dead Horses- Junky Star

Junky Star is perhaps my favorite singer/songwriter album of 2010. I say “perhaps” because there’s a slight chance that I’m wrong.

How can I say this?

Because it’s no secret that the stars are falling from the sky… it’s no secret that the world is in darkness tonight… they say the sun is sometimes eclipsed by the moon…

Ok, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Swap… you really need to lay off those mushrooms.”

Ryan Bingham‘s voice still slays me. I dig his voice so much that I let my mom hear him sing to get her all excited over it as well. She heard a bit and then said to me, “Why he no clear his throat before he sing? Why no one tell him to drink water before sing?”

I tried to explain to her that his voice is COOL, but she would have none of it.

“He sound like he swallow something baaaad. Like your cooking.”

She did like the music, though, which was a huge accomplishment on my part. So Ryan, if you’re reading out there, you can sleep well tonight knowing that MY mom digs your music. Read our full review here.

[Amazon] [iTunes]

2. Robert Plant - Band of JoyRobert Plant – Band of Joy

I must admit… Band of Joy is an awful name for a band. When I hear the name Band of Joy, I think of a group comprised of a bunch of William Hung looking folk, and that ain’t pretty.

But since Robert Plant is associated with the name, it’s automatically cool.

Plant could be associated with anything and he’d make it cool.

I wish I were as cool as Robert Plant. Then I could say or do anything and people would say, “He’s cool.” Like the time I mouthed off to my Chinese school teacher because I hated the song we were singing. Every year, we sang this ridiculous song about a donkey that falls off a bridge. Well, I wanted to sing the song about the two little tigers… so I spoke up and got in BIG trouble because it wasn’t cool to do that back then.

If I were as cool as Robert Plant, I bet you the teacher would have switched the song to the two little tigers, given me the lead vocals, and then would have gotten me laid after the performance. Sure, I was just 8 at the time, but that’s how cool I would be.

Hmmm… that’s a pretty twisted thing I just wrote up there.

Which just goes to show you – Band of Joy is a cool-ass name for a band.

Read our full review here.

Robert Plant on: [Amazon] [iTunes]

1. Phantogram – Eyelid Movies

Oh yes, this is my #1 favorite album of 2010.

Without a doubt.

Phantogram‘s Eyelid Movies hasn’t stopped playing on my iTunes since I picked it up way back in February. Wow. That seems like a lifetime ago.

Do you remember what you were doing in February? I was in a chemistry class, trying to figure out the IUPAC systematic approach to nomenclature. Yes, that was just as fun as it sounds.

I can’t say enough about Eyelid Movies, so I won’t. Instead, I’ll tell you what I’m going to eat for dinner tonight: FOOD.

And what will I have to drink? A liquid.

I’m all about the fun, people.

If you haven’t heard Eyelid Movies, do yourself a favor and pick it up. Click here for a sample off the album… take a listen and I sincerely hope you find it as rewarding as I still do.

So that’s it! I know we still have a few weeks to go until 2011, so if there’s an album that completely blows me away before then, I’ll be sure to update this post.

What were your favorite albums of 2010?

[Amazon] [iTunes]

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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.

Wow. I would never have guessed it, but Sarah Palin’s reality show, Sarah Palin’s Alaska, set a ratings record for the TLC channel with over 5 million viewers. That’s a HUGE number.

To give you how huge of a number that is, let me give you a few things to think about:

– Los Angeles has a population of just under 4 million
– Only 909 people voted for Palin during the 1999 mayoral Wasilla, Alaska race. That’s a SHITLOAD less than 5 million.
– A panagram is a sentence that contains all 26 letters of the English alphabet. For example: Pack my red box with five dozen quality jugs.

Ok, that last thing wasn’t about Sarah Palin… that’s because I think I’ve spent enough time on her.

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

Rocking Chair – Eric Clapton

I did not expect to see this song at number one this week. Eric Clapton‘s “Rocking Chair” must have put me at such ease that I just let it play and play and play until IT decided to stop.

“Rocking Chair” is actually a Hoagland Howard “Hoagy” Carmichael composition. This is the same guy that wrote such classics like, “Georgia On My Mind,” and the ever so popular, “Heart and Soul” that Tom Hanks played with his feet on that giant keyboard in the movie, Big.

I think most everyone knows “Heart and Soul.” I grew up knowing it only as a piano instrumental and was shocked when I discovered that the song actually has lyrics to it.

Carmichael wrote the music and Frank Loesser wrote the words:

Heart and soul, I fell in love with you,
Heart and soul, the way a fool would do,
Madly…
Because you held me tight,
And stole a kiss in the night

But you know what? That has nothing to do with the fact that I played “Rocking Chair” 28 times and is off Clapton’s latest release, Clapton.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Rocking Chair

[Amazon] [iTunes]

Racing in the Street – Bruce Springsteen

I’m sure it comes to no surprise that a song off Bruce Springsteen‘s latest release, The Promise, made it to the list this week.

“Racing in the Street” actually became a favorite Springsteen song of mine through the various solo acoustic performances from his bootlegs. If you’d like to hear one of these performances, click here for a solo acoustic show from Barcelona.

The song first appeared on his Darkness on the Edge of Town album… the version off The Promise is an alternate recording that has some lyrical differences and is just a bit faster than the original.

By the way, if you haven’t picked up The Promise yet, let me just say that it’s quite good.

I played “Racing in the Street” 14 times this week.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Racing in the Street

[Amazon][iTunes]

Take Me Somewhere – Tennis

I was pretty excited to hear about Tennis‘ new record, Cape Dory, that’s set to drop on January 18th of next year.

We’ve featured Tennis before… check out “Marathon” here.

“Take Me Somewhere” reminds me of a holly jolly Christmas for some reason. I remember hitting repeat on it because it brought back memories of decorating a Christmas tree with my family. Fitting for this time of year, I suppose, but I don’t think the song is about Christmas.

I’m really looking forward to Cape Dory… I have a feeling that it’ll be a record I spin a LOT for 2011.

“Take Me Somewhere” was played 10 times this week.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Take Me Somewhere

[Amazon] [iTunes]

Round and Round – Selena Gomez and The Scene

You know what? I’m not even ashamed that this song made it to the list. I think Selena Gomez is hilarious in the television show, Wizards of Waverly Place, and this track, “Round and Round,” off her latest record is pretty daggum catchy.

Oh yes, I actually have a copy of her new record, A Year Without Rain.

“Round and Round” is simply one of those guilty pleasures of mine. Don’t judge me. I played the song 7 times this week to thunderous applause.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Round and Round

[Amazon] [iTunes]

Thrown Right at Me – The Tallest Man on Earth

Remember back in September when The Tallest Man on Earth released his EP, Sometimes the Blues is Just a Passing Bird, without any buildup? (read about it here) Well, it seems that I haven’t had enough of the music because yet another track off of it has found its way to the Top 5 songs list.

If you’re not familiar with The Tallest Man on Earth yet and you’re really into the acoustic singer/songwriter style, I would highly recommend taking a listen to “Thrown Right at Me” without any hesitation.

In fact, why don’t you just stop reading right now and go down to the Dig-It section for a spin… yes, go right NOW.

And just to punish you for NOT taking my advice, I’m going to say some really offensive things to piss you off:

– All Beatles cover bands are better than what The Beatles could do.
Jethro Tull deserved to beat out Metallica for the 1989 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental
– Every track on Santana‘s latest album, Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time, is better than the original.
– Brett Favre will return next year.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Thrown Right at Me

[Amazon] [iTunes]

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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 know that I missed last week’s Top 5 list… but I have a good reason for this… and that reason will go with me to my grave. So if you want to know what I missed the Top 5 list on November 5, 2010, you’ll have to attend my funeral and beat it out of me… which probably won’t happen because I’ll already be dead.

Which works out quite nicely for me.

Anyhow, has anyone been watching Conan O’Brien’s new show on TBS? It’s been a good week of comedy for the man… I’m looking forward to seeing how the show progresses as time goes on. For those of you that watched it… thoughts? Criticisms? Compliments?

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

My Way To You – Jamey Johnson

I think Jamey Johnson‘s latest album, The Guitar Song, is one of the best releases so far this year (click here for our review). I’ve been listening to it quite a bit this past week, and the last track, “My Way to You,” got the most repeats.

There’s nothing incredibly unique about this song… it just fit my mood, I guess. My favorite line is “Chasing after dreams that don’t come true.” Maybe I’m being pessimistic here, but sometimes I feel like that’s what I do 99% of the time. I suppose that if I don’t chase them, then I’ll never actually know if they don’t come true… so the chase is just as important as the failure.

Have you ever chased something that, deep in your heart, you KNOW will never come to be… yet you go after it anyway?

That’s how I’ve often felt as a musician. I’m not talking about fame and fortune, but the dream of writing the perfect song… of writing a song that embodies who I am, what I want to say, and everything I’m feeling at the time. Crazy thing is, that will NEVER happen because who I am, what I want to say, and everything I’m feeling changes.

So I’m chasing a dream that won’t come true. But I’ll chase the chase till the day I die.

I played “My Way to You” 15 times this week.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: My Way to You

[Amazon] [iTunes]

Young Blood – The Naked & Famous

When the first notes of “Young Blood” by The Naked and Famous started playing, I had a gut feeling that I knew I’d like it. Turns out my gut was right… which just goes to show you that I should rely on it all the time from this point forward.

So if I take a test and come across the problem: 1+1=?

If my GUT tells me the answer is 5235, then that’s what I shall put down. So 1+1=5235.

Call me crazy, but that’s what my gut tells me.

Regarding New Zealand’s The Naked and Famous, though, I am NOT crazy because “Young Blood” will most likely please all those that come across it. The song is off their latest record, Passive Me, Aggressive You… there’s an 80’s feel to it… nice synth textures… take a listen to the song and if you can, catch their live show.

Here are their upcoming US dates… check their MySpace page for more info and music.

Nov 19 2010 9:00P Mercury Lounge New York, New York
Nov 20 2010 9:30P Brooklyn Bowl Brooklyn, New York
Nov 22 2010 9:30P Bardot Hollywood Hollywood, CA
Nov 23 2010 9:30P Echoplex Los Angeles, CA

“Young Blood” was played 10 times this week.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Young Blood

[Amazon][<iTunes]

Take My Hair – Depression State Troopers

Depression State Troopers have one of the most self-glorifying MySpace blurbs I’ve read in a long time: “Sometimes it’s just this easy. Sometimes two friends decide to write and record some music and through some stroke of genius and happenstance the results are stunning. It doesn’t hurt matters that the two friends in question are Tim Williams and Jacob Jones. Both with enough talent and drive to propel their own careers as solo artists.”

It’s always funny when people use the word “genius” in how they describe themselves… and to openly claim they have “talent” is just a bit much for me. Call me humble, but I’d never tell someone, “Yeah, I’m a genius and have talent.” I’d find a much subtler way to put it… like, “Yeah, I’m a friggin’ genius and more talent in my pinky than you have in your entire body.”

THAT, good people, is subtle.

Thing is, though, that Depression State Troopers is really quite good. “Take My Hair” is off their latest release, The Reason for the Fall… something to add on my list.

I played “Take My Hair” 8 times this week.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Take My Hair

[Amazon] [iTunes]

So Prone – SLUTEVER

It seems that I’ve had Slutever‘s latest record, Sorry I’m Not Sorry, in my iTunes for the longest time now… it was released back in July and I finally had a chance to take it for a spin.

The record has an incredibly lo-fi, trashy sound that seems to get under your fingernails yet you don’t want to wash it out. “So Prone” grabbed me the most… they really got the “trashy” sound down pat.

I’ve never been a huge fan of seeing people vomit, so you can imagine that the album cover did me wonders.

You can pick up Sorry I’m Not Sorry for free right now by clicking here. I actually dig the record a lot.. will have to spend more time with it.

“So Prone” was played 5 times this week.

Here are their upcoming show dates… visit their MySpace page for more info.

Nov 13 2010 8:00P Mitten House w/ CREEPOID, ACID KICKS, NURSE BEACH Philadelphia, PA
Nov 16 2010 8:00P Kung Fu Necktie w/ THE COATHANGERS, TOUGH SHITS Philadelphia, PA
Nov 29 2010 7:00P North Star Bar w/ BLACKHAWKS, ESKIMEAUX, SECOND FLOOR STORIES Philadelphia, PA

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: So Prone

[Amazon] [iTunesicon]

Cried Wolf (and Other Animals) – The Rest

I was pleasantly surprised by The Rest‘s beautiful track, “Cried Wolf (and Other Animals).” At first I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but as the song progressed, I knew that I had to find out more about this band and see if I could find more music.

Lucky for me, I came across this page that allowed me to pick up their entire Cried Wolf EP for free.

I would strongly suggest checking out that link… along with the EP, you can take a look at the Cried Wolf book as well. I love it when bands do that little extra for their music. The book’s artwork is wonderful to look at, as is the story.

From what I get from their MySpace page, The Rest is a more than a band. Their bio explains, “we can easily tell you that we’ve gotten to do lots of exciting, fulfilling things under the The Rest moniker (this book), (these albums), (these videos), (this beer), (this label), (and more) – basically, we’ve been quite busy. It’s a happy balance, but one that rarely feels sure-footed.”

“Beer?” you ask? Yes, I was intrigued as well. Go get more info on it by checking them out on MySpace!

And don’t forget to pick up the Cried Wolf EP for free here.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Cried Wolf (and Other Animals)

[Amazon] [iTunes]

StewartMrT_featured

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 know I usually write about my pal Obama-san, but this week I’m afraid I have to shift the focus to Sarah Palin. In case you haven’t seen this, here’s the promo video to her upcoming reality show, Sarah Palin’s Alaska.

Pretty incredible promo, huh? Are you going to watch this? I sent a text to Obama asking this very question, he replied with, “Who’s Sarah Palin?”

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

Burning Hell – Tom Jones

I got turned onto “Burning Hell” by Tom Jones thru my friend John Beard. He suggested that I watch Jones’ performance of this tune on Letterman via YouTube, which I did… I dug it so much I ripped the audio of the studio recording and played it for the remainder of the evening.

The Letterman performance had Jones and just a guitarist and drummer… a common practice nowadays. While I thought it was unique with The White Stripes, I’m finding it to be a bit of a bore now. Come on, Tom… how hard would it be to have a bassist in the mix?

People don’t give bassists enough credit. That low-end thump adds SO much!

But he’s Tom Jones and I’m not.

I played “Burning Hell” 12 times this week.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Burning Hell

[Amazon] [iTunes]

Long Black Veil – The Band

Every now and then I get re-hooked on The Band‘s music. I see it as a cleansing of sorts, and although I never know when it’ll hit, I always welcome it. So when I started playing “Long Black Veil” over and over again, I had a feeling that the moment had come again to play The Band‘s albums.

My favorite is their self-titled record, but “Long Black Veil” is off their debut, Music From the Big Pink.

The song is a 1959 country ballad that is told from the point of view from a man who is falsely accused of murder. It’s one of those classic narratives that has been covered by everyone… I wouldn’t be surprised if Ke$ha takes a stab at it someday. Wouldn’t THAT be something, folks?

No, I don’t think so, either.

She’d probably cover it and claim that she was “returning to her roots.”

I played “Long Black Veil” 9 times this week. Love this version.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Long Black Veil

[Amazon][<iTunes]

Trust – Generationals

“Trust” by New Orleans band Generationals is one of those songs that just creep into your playlist. It doesn’t shock you, it doesn’t hit you like a ton of bricks, it just sits in that comfort zone…

There’s nothing wrong with that, and I dug on the song for a while… but then I needed something that had more of a punch.

But you know what? I kept coming back to “Trust” just because it felt GOOD.

Their MySpace has a link for a free 5-song download. Go visit, listen to some more tunes, click the link, and get some free stuff.

What more can you ask for?

I played “Trust” 7 times this week. Those were 7 very comfortable moments.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Trust

[Amazon] [iTunes]

Lille – Lisa Hannigan

Lisa Hannigan‘s debut solo album, Sea Sew was a Spin of the Week here at TheFrontloader.com last year. Her voice is just staggeringly beautiful… I just can’t get enough of it.

“Lille” was the lead single from the record, and it remains one of the record’s highlights for me. The song’s a simple acoustic tune, but the melody is so adorable that it feels like a fairy tale song to sing for kids.

But I guess lines like, “I went to war every morning,” and “Now it’s dead and gone and I am free,” don’t really play all that well for a fairy tale. I can’t imagine saying the second one to a group of kindergarten kids.

Me: “Now it’s dead and gone and I am free.”
Kids: “What does that mean, Mr. Louie?”
Me: “Well, ‘it’ refers to all of my deepest, darkest secrets… the kind that keeps me awake at night and makes me scared to look at myself in the mirror… sometimes I have a friend lock me in an iron box just to be sure that I don’t harm anyone. Want a cookie?”

I played “Lille” 6 times this week. Great song.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Lille

[Amazon] [iTunesicon]

Zum Wohl – Cluster

Here’s a song that I totally forgot about. My iTunes played Cluster‘s beautiful instrumental, “Zum Wohl,”, after I set it on “shuffle,” and I liked it so much that I played it again and again.

The song is off their 1976 record, Sowiesoso, and is simply a repeated synth pattern with embellishments…. but it creates such a mood around it that made me feel like I was wrapped in the arms of a loved one.

Cluster has been around since the early 70’s and is essential listening for any electronic music fan. Sowiesoso was a record that a friend of mine recommended to me after learning of my complete fascination with Depeche Mode… I remember playing it one day in the living room… my dad came through the kitchen and asked me, “Is this really that interesting to you?”

I didn’t know what to say, so I played it cool and replied with, “Yeah, it’s cool.” When my dad wanted more than that, I was unable to elaborate… so I just kept saying, “It’s cool, dad. You know, man? Cool.”

That was YEARS ago. I think if my dad asked me that same question again this week, I’d probably answer with those exact words again.

I played “Zum Wohl” 5 times this week. Cool, man… you know?

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Zum Wohl

[Amazon] [iTunes]

top5_featured

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.

You know what’s weird? Absolutely NOTHING happened to my buddy Barack “The Obaminator” Obama. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

No book was thrown at him. He didn’t start an argument on a talk show. He didn’t fall off a platform. He didn’t punch a 12-year old kid. He didn’t wear anything weird.

Nothing.

Well, he did do a lot of presidential stuff, but aside from THAT… nothing. Except eat pizza. One thing I’ve noticed is how angry he looks when he eats pizza. Take a look at Obama and pizza when compared to a moment where he appeared to be pretty pissed off:

I mean, dude… if you don’t want to eat pizza THAT much, don’t eat it.

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

Mouth Full of Diamonds – Phantogram

“Mouthful of Diamonds” is off one my favorite albums of the year, Phantogram‘s amazingly amazing Eyelid Movies. This record is still in my regular rotation and I hope it stays there for a while because it’s just that good.

There are so many excellent lines in this song: “The world is not around because of you,” and “You tell the truth when you could have lied,” are two that always stand out to me. The second is such a simple line but I think it’s something we’ve all thought about sometime in our lives.

Anyhow, Eyelid Movies should be on your “must hear” list for 2010 and beyond. I’ll say that again… Eyelid Movies should not be named Eyelid Boogers because it doesn’t sound as cool or as deep. I’ll say that one more time… Eyelid Movies should not be used as a child’s name because it would sound incredibly strange for people to shout out, “Hey, Eyelid! C’mere!”

I played “Mouthful of Diamonds” a stunning 19 times this week. It was on repeat and I just dug it and dug it until I got to China.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Mouthful of Diamonds

[Amazon] [iTunes]

You Are Not Alone – Mavis Staples

I had been looking forward to Mavis Staples‘s new album, You Are Not Alone, to come out because A) I dig on Mavis, and B) Jeff Tweedy of Wilco produced it.

It was one of those unexpected collaborations for me, and the results were quite good. I can’t say that ever track off You Are Not Alone was a home run, but it serves as an excellent gospel record… and the title track was just what I needed this last week.

“You Are Not Alone” is one of those songs that fit perfectly for a rainy day, when there’s gloom everywhere… when all you see outside is grey. Everyone needs to be reminded that they’re not alone, and it doesn’t matter who they’re not alone with, as long as they’re not alone. Did that make sense?

I’ll be curious to see if You Are Not Alone is the last time Staples and Tweedy work together. It’s one of those albums that, when played, will undoubtedly give you a lift… and sometimes that’s all you can ask for from music.

Click here to watch Staples perform on Letterman.

I played “You Are Not Alone” 15 times this week.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: You Are Not Alone

[Amazon][<iTunes]

Kings & Queens – 30 Seconds to Mars

Ever since watching that commercial that featured the 30 Seconds to Mars song, “Kings & Queens,” for the first time, I knew I needed to have that song in my music collection.

I can’t even remember what the commercial was for. All I know is that it was for some soft drink… there was a lot of people running around on a beach, acting like they just cured cancer with their enthusiastic drinking of the soft drink. Was it Orange Crush? Squirt? Mountain Dew? I can’t remember. I’m going to YouTube it… hold on…

A-HA! Sunkist.

Did you know that actor Jared Leto is a member of 30 Seconds to Mars? Don’t know what Leto has done? He’s acted in movies like Fight Club; Girl, Interrupted, and Panic Room… and he’s the main songwriter for the band. Pretty talented guy, indeed.

“Kings & Queens” is off 30 Seconds to Mars‘ 2009 album, This is War… the song’s another instant pick-me-up, and it picked me up 12 times this week.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Kings & Queens

[Amazon] [iTunes]

The Northwest States – Secret Knives

I checked out “The Northwest States” because it appeared to be one of those “buzz” songs, and after listening to it a few times, I can understand why it’s getting some attention.

Secret Knives are from New Zealand, and someone needs to tell them that their MySpace page is extremely difficult to look at. I wonder if they even look at it… click here and check it out… it’s black text on a dark/near black background. Who designed this, and why would they think this looks good?

This page is like one of those horrendous outfits celebrities wear on the red carpet that has everyone asking, “Didn’t you look in the mirror before walking out the door?” or, “How much are you getting paid to wear this?” or, “You lost a bet, didn’t you?”

It is my hope that Secret Knives fixes this problem soon because I didn’t even bother to try to read about them there.

Luckily for them, I dug on “The Northwestern States” 7 times this week. Good song.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: The Northwest States

[Amazon]

Arena – Suuns

The first thing I noticed on SuunsMySpace page is that they were once called Zeroes but had to change it to Suuns due to “American legal reasons.”

That kind of stinks, especially if you’re attached to your name. I bet you Zeroes had a special meaning to the members… I’ve been trying to find the connection between “Suuns” and “Zeroes,” and I can’t except that they’re both round. Can you think of anything?

Maybe an “S” is kind of like a backwards “Z” or something?

In any case, I sat here digging on their track, “Arena,” for about 15 minutes. Totally love the opening, and I think I would have been satisfied if the entire song were just that loop going over and over again… but it turns out that there are vocals and those vocals add some good stuff.

Vocals don’t come in until about halfway through the song.

“Arena” comes from their current EP, Zeroes, and although I haven’t checked it out yet, I hope this song is a good indication of what’s to be heard. Hmmm… the EP is called Zeroes… they used to be CALLED Zeroes… I wonder if the original name of the EP was “Suuns?”

It’s possible. It’s possible.

I played “Arena” 4 times this week to thunderous applause.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Arena

[Amazon] [iTunes]

cigarguy_featured

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.

It’s been another week of weirdness for pal-o-mine, President “Kung-Fu” Pand-Obama. He had a book thrown at him, which wasn’t so bad because the thrower only wanted to get Obama to give him some free advertisement… but the real whopper was that he discovered he’s related to Sarah Palin (TheHuffingtonPost.com).

Yes, he was stunned by the news.

“I’m WHAT?” he texted me.
“Yup, dude… you guys are 10th cousins.” I replied.
“You’re lying.”
“Hey, don’t blame this on me. Get this… you’re also 11th cousins from George W. Bush! Take a look!”

Obama Family Tree

“Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.”

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

Hard Times – Ryan Bingham

I can’t resist songs titled “Hard Times.” My feeling is that I’m always curious to see how hard their times are in comparison to other artists. I think my favorite “Hard Times” is by Ray Charles (it’s a must hear), but this one by Ryan Bingham ranks pretty high on the list as well.

Off his Mescalito album, “Hard Times” has one of the best slide guitar tones I’ve heard in a long time. Sure, that’s probably not so much of a selling point for some of you, but for tone-freaks out there, it’s a thing of beauty.

I’m not sure if I’m a tone-freak anymore. I used to be judge guitar tones like I would a good melon… now I think I’m one of those “Hey, if it’s in tune, the f*** it!” kind of folk. Out-of-tune guitars is far worse than anything else. I’d take a cheap Squire Strat through an amp made out of pig intestine to an out-of-tune guitar any day.

The tone in “Hard Times” has just the right amount of grit and hollowness to satisfy these bones. The song is quite good as well… I played it 11 times this week.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Hard Times

[Amazon] [iTunes]

Soulless – Fake Problems

Florida’s Fake Problems just released their third album, Real Ghosts Caught on Tape last month. They’ve been around since about 2005, and derive their name from the notion that their debut album was recorded solo by singer Chris Farren with no problems or commitments. I totally dig the name… makes me wonder how many problems I create in my life out of nothing… seemingly just for sake of having a problem to solve or brood over.

Here’s a funny moment for the band (taken from Wikipedia):

On an early 2008 tour with Smoke or Fire, the band was driving through Tennessee to their next show, when a giant turkey flew through their window. Two shows were canceled and the band had to stay at a motel in Cleveland TN for the weekend while the windshield was repaired.

A giant turkey flew through their window??? I remember seeing a group of wild turkeys wandering around my backyard during my stay in Nashville, but this is a first for me. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to have a giant turkey fly through my car windshield.

I wonder if “Soulless” was written about that turkey? I played it 10 times this week to find out… didn’t come up with any conclusion.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Soulless

[Amazon][iTunes]

These United States What LastsWater & Wheat – These United States

“Cumulonimbus WordPop fr th’Jangly Railyard Dreamer” is what their MySpace profile reads. These United States definitely has a way with words.

“Water & Wheat” is off their latest record, What Lasts, and ends with the promise of, “I continue to walk.” That line jumped out at me when I first heard the track, and I think that’s what kept me going back (nice rhyme there).

There’s nothing extremely fancy about the song, but it moves with such gusto that I couldn’t help but do a little head thrashing while listening. There was a moment where I slammed my head into my desk because of excessive head thrashing, but don’t worry… the desk is A-OK.

The band has a number of videos up on their Vimeo page… there’s a bunch of “making of What Lasts” videos to check out. If you’ve ever been interested in the behind-the-scenes of a record, these videos give a pretty good idea of that.

I haven’t heard What Lasts yet, but I’m going to put it on my long list of “things to listen to.” I wonder when I’ll ever get to the end of that list?

“Water & Wheat” was played 8 times this week.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Water & Wheat

[Amazon] [iTunes]

I Don’t Wanna – The Call

“I Don’t Wanna” is one of my favorite songs by The Call. I love Michael Been’s voice here… it’s majestic, it’s epic, and it’s commanding in its presence.

Originally off their album, Into the Woods, the song’s meaning has always eluded me. I could be WAY off the mark, but the lyrics have always made me think of God, and how I think He doesn’t want to MAKE you love Him… He just knows that when the time comes, you will. The last lines, “I ain’t gonna pray for you to love me / Because I know you will / I just know it!” give me that impression.

Forced love and appreciation never lasts nor is it genuine.

I could be WAY off the mark, though. If someone else out there has a more conclusive idea behind the song, I’m all ears… but to be honest, I like my interpretation because it’s kept the song in the back of my mind for many, many years.

So I guess what I’m saying is please don’t burst my bubble!

I played “I Don’t Wanna” 6 times this week. Love this song.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: I Don’t Wanna

[Amazon] [iTunes]

Prudence Teacup Two LullabiesThe Devil’s Lullaby – Prudence Teacup

I don’t know much about Prudence Teacup except that she writes some pretty haunting music.

“The Devil’s Lullaby” is a fine example of this.

The track is part of the soundtrack to the film, Two Lullabies (download for free here). Here’s a brief description of the film:

The short film “Two Lullabies,” directed, written, and produced by our friend, Joseph Hung, is finished and available to watch on VIMEO.com. It is a faustian tale that portrays a cabaret singer’s fall from grace, and stars our very own Prudence Teacup, who wrote and performed the two songs on the soundtrack. Both tracks, The Devil’s Lullaby and The Angel’s Lullaby, originated from a batch of home recordings produced by Alfra Martini (a.k.a Prudence Teacup) in early 2007. These scratchy demos later inspired Joseph Hung to write a script for a short film.

Click here to watch the film.

I played “The Devil’s Lullaby” 4 times this week.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: The Devil’s Lullaby

[Amazon] [iTunes]

konata1_featured

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.

My amigo, President Obama-lama-ding-dong, had a pretty traumatic week. Take a look at this video:

In case you were wondering, it was I who planned the whole thing… it was I who rigged the seal to fall… and finally, it was I who allowed the Alliance to know the location of the shield generator.

Obama cracked a few jokes in public, but after the speech… he was ma-a-a-a-a-d. He was so livid that he didn’t know what to do… so he sent his wife to reprimand me. Somehow, she broke into my house at night, snuck up into my room and hovered over me until I woke up. This was the first thing I saw:

YOU LITTLE BASTARD!!!!!

Mrs. Obama convinced me that I feel bad, so I sent The Pres a text with a link to This Week’s Top 5 Most Played Songs From Swap’s iTunes. We’re cool now.

Hush – Basia Bulat

I’ve been meaning to write about Basia Bulat for a while now, but for some reason I never get around to it… so I’m glad she came up in the top spot this week.

Basia has an absolutely GORGEOUS voice that is so expressive… seems that she knows every nuance of her voice and knows how to control them. Just take a listen to this near a cappella performance of “Hush.” She reminds me of Tracy Chapman in her fragility, and Joss Stone in her soul.

Her latest album, Heart of My Own, has received a good number of positive reviews and landed her on the list for the 2010 Polaris Music Prize (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy). Unfortunately, she didn’t win, but hey – it’s an honor to just be nominated, right?

At least that’s what I would say. I don’t have to win… every time…

I played “Hush” 13 times this week. I remember laying in bed with Basia coming through my headphones… check out the song and see if it makes you want to do the same thing.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Hush

[Amazon] [iTunes]

The Devil is a Woman – Chuck Cannon

Chuck Cannon is one of those artists that I didn’t think I knew, but it turns out that I do know, mainly because he’s one of the writers responsible for American Idol finalist Danny Gokey‘s “I Will Not Say Goodbye.” If you’ve never heard this song before, consider yourself lucky.

Anyhow, Cannon wasn’t 100% responsible for that song, so I’m going to cut him some slack.

Besides, he wrote this killer tune, “The Devil is a Woman,” off his album, Love and Money, which makes up for a lot of things. When I first heard this song, I said to myself, “Self? Haven’t you heard that song before?” But it turns out that I hadn’t, in fact, heard that song before… it was a rather boring conversation I had with myself and not really worth talking about anymore.

Cannon’s voice just oozes “life experience.” You can hear every scar, every heartbreak, and every sense of redemption within the words he writes and sings. It’s a voice that demolishes 99% of those out there now… it’s a shame he doesn’t get more press.

I played “The Devil is a Woman” 10 times this week. Love this song.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: The Devil is a Woman

[Amazon][iTunes]

Blue & Silver – Lower Dens

Lower Dens has already been on the Top 5 list before (August 27) with their track, “Tea Lights,” so I’m betting the band is jumping for joy that they made it here again.

Hey, this Top 5 list may not be on the same level as a Polaris Music Prize, but it’s pretty awesome (in my head).

I mean, making it on this list means that I must have played the song more than most any other song during the week… enough times to get noticed, anyway. And everyone wants to be noticed, don’t they?

I sure do. Which is why I’m starting a new line of Swapmeet Louie cologne products called, Notice Me, F***er!

This cologne smells like a month-old used tampon, and chances are that nobody will want to be within a 5-mile radius around you, but hey – you’ll definitely be noticed and I can almost guarantee you that people will be talking about you for a long, long time.

Notice Me, F***er! has been tested in the strictest of correctional institutions with an overall 100% effectiveness rating by inmates. It was SO effective in Boise, Idaho, that the institution actually set the user free for reasons cited as, “The dude stank.”

How’s THAT for effective?

I played “Blue & Silver” 7 times this week.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Blue & Silver

[Amazon] [iTunes]

Jackson, Don’t You Worry – Two Cow Garage

I wrote about Two Cow Garage just list last weekend. Their track, “Your Humble Narrator,” impressed me enough to get it’s own feature here. In that post, I explained that they are set to release their next record, Saint Saint Me, on October 26.

“Jackson, Don’t You Worry,” is a track off that upcoming release, and it’s another stunner for me. This acoustic recording focuses on singer Micah Schnabel’s gravel of a voice, and I totally dig it. I haven’t heard the entire album yet, but you can bet your butt I’m excited about it now.

In that last post on the band, I had mentioned that the deluxe package of their new album will come with a 64 Ounce Metal Flask with the Two Cow Garage logo screened on it. You know, I didn’t really realize just how big 64 ounces is.

64 ounces is HALF A GALLON.

Dude. That’s a hefty flask. I’ve never seen a flask that big before, nor do I know any person who would actually carry that around. HALF A GALLON.

Makes me kinda wanna get that deluxe package… just to see this flask.

I played “Jackson, Don’t You Worry” 5 times this week. Great track… I bet it fits in that flask.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Jackson, Don’t You Worry

[Amazon] [iTunes]

Ghosts – Laura Marling

Laura Marling is another artist that I’ve been meaning to write about but just never got around to it. She’s one of those artists that I can’t seem to find a category for. I believe she’s labeled as “folk,” but since that label is pretty blurry nowadays, I’m not sure if it fits.

I guess in the end it doesn’t matter where you categorize an artist as long as you like their music.

Last I heard, Marling is romantically involved with Marcus Mumford of Mumford and Sons. I have no idea if they’re still together, but I hope they are because it’d be cool to have a name like “Mumford.”

Marling’s 2008 album, Alas, I Cannot Swim, was nominated for a Mercury Music Prize, the UK’s version of the Grammy. I wonder if the people in UK refer to the Grammy as the American version of the Mercury Music Prize? They probably do.

After playing this song 4 times this week, I have come to realize that I really dig her accent. That’s a pretty lame thing to realize after listening to a song, yet that’s where I am.

Such a delicate voice, and that accent makes the song that much… cuter.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Ghosts

[Amazon] [iTunes]

wedding crashers

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.

It’s been a weird week for me and my buddy Obama because we finally see eye to eye on something. In case you missed the discussion, Obama feels that the American educational system can benefit from an extended school year (click here to read all about it)… when I heard this, I got excited and sent him a text that said, “Good for you!”

He didn’t quite understand what I was talking about, so he replied with, “Yeah Michelle loved it last night!”

I didn’t quite understand what he was talking about, so I jokingly replied with, “Did she call out my name like she normally does?”

He didn’t quite get the joke because he replied with, “Yes, and so did Oprah!”

That image was too weird for me, so I thought it best to just stop that conversation right there.

This is the exact reason why it’s always best to talk than text.

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

Monahans – Kevin Higgins

Kevin Higgins just won Song of the Year at the Texas Music Awards for a song called “Find Your Shine.” This is his second time winning that award out of three nominations… not bad!

I wish I could tell you that “Find Your Shine” is this week’s top most played song, but it isn’t… it’s another Higgins cut, “Monahans.”

His most recent offering, Find Your Shine, was released in 2009 and climbed all the way up to #53 on the Americana Music Chart. I’ve only heard a few cuts off of it, and I must say that if you’re a fan of that genre, it’d be something to check out.

Higgins, along with his wife Barbara Malteze, also belong in a Texas band called The Dust Devils. They’ve also won a bunch of Texas Music Awards, including Song of the Year, Album of the Year, and Vocal Duo of the Year.

Check out his MySpace page for more info and show dates.

I played “Monahans” 15 times this week. It’s got a great feel to it that I nestled into quickly and didn’t want to let go of. I can’t believe how good this guy is.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Monahans

[Amazon] [iTunes]

Heavy Load – Deadstring Brothers

I guess I was in a Rock ‘n’ Roll mood this week because this next song totally fits the bill.

The Deadstring Brothers have been compared to Exile-era Rolling Stones and for good measure. The featured track here, “Heavy Load,” is reminiscent of that period for the Stones… the funny thing is that the band started as a Rolling Stones cover band… I guess they took it to the next level.

Visit their MySpace page for tour dates (they’re mostly in the UK now) and for samples off their current record, Sao Paulo. I’m going to have a lot of fun catching up with this band… I can already feel it!

“Heavy Load” is off their Silver Mountain record… I played the song 12 times this week because I dig on Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Heavy Load

[Amazon][iTunes]

Silver Lining – Hurts

Ok, this song breaks the “rock ‘n’ roll mood.”

Hurts came out of nowhere for me. I have a bunch of their songs in my iTunes, I just never got around to hearing it.

I hate it when I miss something just because I’m too busy to notice it.

Hurts is comprised of Adam Anderson and Theo Hutchcraft, two guys that met outside a nightclub and started talking music. Soon after, they started to write over the the interenet…. one would send the music, one would send the vocals, etc, and they’d slowly put the song together. This may sound may sound like an odd method of songwriting, but I guess it definitely works here.

I suppose that I’m more used a more immediate approach to writing. The way Hurts does it is like mailing a statue to someone, having them make one chip in it, then having them mail it back for you to make your cut… and repeating this until the image is formed.

Actually, that sounds like an interesting way to compose. You don’t know what the next move will be, and that could take you in directions you never expected… I like that!

“Silver Lining” is off their debut record, Happiness… I played it 9 times and if I had more time to listen to songs, THIS one would probably be #1.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Silver Lining

[Amazon] [iTunes]

Heart is Strange (Active Child Remix) – School of Seven Bells

It’s rare that a remix would make it onto the Top 5 list, yet this one of School of Seven Bells achieved just that, thus making it The Greatest Song Ever Recorded.

Now, usually that distinction would go to “Jesse’s Girl” by Rick Springfield, but seeing that Rick (or “The Ricker”) did NOT give me $152.53 and School of Seven Bells DID… well, you do the math.

In case you’re wondering, “Swap takes bribes???” the answer is “no.” I do NOT take bribes, but I do take payoffs… and that’s not the same thing… unless it is.

Anyhow, this remix of “Heart is Strange” is courtesy of Active Child, the stage name for Pat Grossi.

I love how open and mellow this remix is… it changes the feel of the song and helps me drift off to a blissful sleep when I need it… I’m listening to it right now and it’s making me want to zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Heart is Strange (Active Child Remix)

[Amazon] [iTunes]

Helicopter – Deerhunter

Deerhunter‘s latest record, Halcyon Digest, has been making some waves across the internet. It’s been called “brilliant,” “confident,” and “a record!”

The featured track here, “Helicopter,” is one of those songs that… quite honestly, I have no idea how it made this list. I’ve only heard two tracks off Halcyon Digest (“Helicopter” and “Revival”) and I’m not sure if it’s my cup of tea.

“Now they are thrilled with me,” sings Bradford Cox, and I’m not sure who he’s trying to convince… him or me.

The song is 5 minutes of basically the same thing over and over and over and over again until someone in the band said, “ENOUGH!” and then ended the song. I have no idea how this song got the 5 spins it got.

I guess this is one of those bands that I’ll have to spend more time with in order to see what all the fuss is about.

Take a listen and let me know if you can shed some light on this band for me.

Your Dig-It Download:

Download: Helicopter

[Amazon] [iTunes]