The Intersection of The Killers and Spike Lee

The Killers just released a new song…via a video directed by Spike Lee…


Missy Elliott: First Female Rap Artist in Songwriting Hall of Fame

Congrats to Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott, for working hard for over 20 years and earning the recognition to be the first female rap artist in the Songwriting Hall of Fame!

Your music is a frequent inspiration to dance party around this house.  Well earned.

Today is Hamilton Day

In celebration of Alexander Hamilton’s birthday, today all Starbucks locations are playing a playlist curated by Lin-Manuel Miranda…and Hamilton goes on stage tonight in Puerto Rico…

Here are my favorite sequences from the soundtrack:

It Was 20 Years Ago Today…December 1998

Evanescence:  Evanescence EP

The original release by Evanescence was released on December 29, 1998.  It contains 7 tracks, two of which have been mainstays in the bands repertoire for nearly 20 years.

“Imaginary” leans heavily on dream references, including looking fields of paper flowers and “candy clouds of lullaby”.  Singer Amy Lee uses this imagery to evoke a longing for living in a dream world instead of her own reality.  The song was re-recorded for their hit album Fallen, but was also featured on the Anywhere But Home live album.

The other track Evanescence has stuck with through the years is the song “Understanding”.  The original version from this EP was over seven minutes long, but it has since been cut to closer to four minutes.  Multi-instrumentalist Ben Moody has described the song as a “ridiculous goth anthem”, yet the song received new life during The Open Door tour.

Through the years, the band has been good about putting their older releases up for fans to discover, and this EP is no exception.  The MP3 version is available here:


Top 5 Albums of 2018

5.  The White Album Super Deluxe Edition-  The Beatles

When it comes to The Beatles, my attitude is “more is better”.  Now, I’m one of those people who wish they had put out one solid 14 track White Album, but it’s great to hear this embryonic demo from the Esher sessions of the song that would eventually become “Jealous Guy”.  My personal quip about the Super Deluxe Edition is that it did not feature the version of “Helter Skelter” where Ringo shouts about the blisters on his fingers.

4.  Everything Matters but No One Is Listening-  Beach Slang

Released under the moniker Quiet Slang, this album is a more hushed reinterpretation of some of the recent Beach Slang tracks.  What is discovered when hearing some of these songs without full guitar distortion is that the lyrics are also integral to several of the songs.

3.  Dirty Computer-  Janelle Monae

Dirty Computer as an album explored the full spectrum of female gender identity.  Monae wanted to make it her mission statement to show the world who she is as a person and a performer.  The fact that it takes place in a future dystonia makes it all the more prescient in the world of 2018.

2.  Things Change-  American Aquarium

American Aquarium put out an album utterly of the moment in 2018.  Several of the songs are about lives of people who are minimized, taken advantage of, and left to watch society from the sidelines.  Plus, it’s great to see bands that don’t fit that typical “country” look making it in the alt-country scene.

  1.  American Utopia-  David Byrne

Somehow, 40 years in, this is David Byrne’s first album in the Billboard top 10. I mean, the Talking Heads album “77” is a classic of all time!!  Of late, Byrne had found a new audience by partnering on a couple of albums with St. Vincent, whom I also love.  He also wrote the book Bicycle Diaries.  Yet, here, he gets back to doing what he loves, using that voice of his to tell compelling stories that work both as songs and as tales in and of themselves.  “Doing the Right Thing” features several people who, somehow, none of them end up doing the right thing.  I very much want to know where Byrne’s Reasons to be Cheerful project will be going next.

bonus content:

Top 50 Songs of 2018: #s 20 – 1

  1. “Breathe” by Forest Blakk

Favorite line:  “But for now I’m still trying to come to terms with the fact/that today I looked out how long it would take to drown”

  1. “Lead Poison” by Tom Morello

Favorite line:  “But now I understand why Eazy-E is like ‘fuck you'”

That’s actually my favorite line in any song this year…also features two members of the Wu-Tang clan

  1. “Colonizer” by Tune-Yards

Favorite line:  “I comb my white woman’s hair with a comb made generally, especially for me”

17.  “The world is on fire” by American Aquarium                                                            Favorite line: “We must go boldly into the darkness and be the light”


16. “The trouble with wanting” by Joy Williams                                                                          Favorite line: “the trouble with wanting is I want you”

Formerly one half of The Civil Wars, it feels good to hear her continue singing.

  1. “The Hamilton polka” by Weird Al Yankovic Favorite line: “and when push comes to shove/I will send a fully armed battalion to remind you of my love”

So fantastical you have, it’s only right to post two videos.

  1. “Who we are” by Descendants

favorite line:  “so take it outside and shout as loud as you can/defend the rights of every woman and man”

Holy cow, I love these guys.  They’re well into middle age and still kicking it harder than bands half their age.

  1. “Can’t deny me” by Pearl Jam

Favorite line:  “your lies are sick/they’re slick and they’re vile”

I was there.  This was the only song they released this year, but they made it count.

  1. “Making a killing” by Jedi Mind Tricks                                                                               Favorite line: “hundreds of thousands are poisoned and blinded/to test cosmetics for the small, small minded”

(FYI, the track is about embracing a vegan culture)

  1. “You never knew my mind” by Chris Cornell                                                              Favorite line: “then you saw the changes painfully/and you knew/you never really knew my mind”

Words by Johnny Cash, but heartbreaking to know this was one of the last songs Chris Cornell ever recorded.

  1. “A hill worth dying on” by Micah Bournes f. Beth May                                            Favorite line: “Because it’s love that makes us want to understand our differences/not erase them”

Because my parents never batted an eye when I told them that I had found a new partner, and she was black.

  1. “Mr. Weinstein will see you now” by Amanda Palmer and Jasmine Power Favorite line: “I storm out through the hallway/i leave the scars inside/you won’t portray my picture/the film is mine”

If you go searching for the video, warning…it’s NSFW.  Youtube makes you sign in to verify your age.  The video is worth it, and I’m not even talking about the nudity.

  1. “Heroin” by Lucy Wainwright Roche

Favorite line:  “Happy birthday Heroin”

This album got delayed, but this song is so worth it.  How does it have less than 4000 views?????

  1. “The Mother” by Brandi Carlile

Favorite line:  “the first things she took from me were selfishness and sleep”

Seattle Times recently stated that 2019 would be the year of Brandi Carlile, and I’m beginning to drink that Kool-Aid.

  1. “Great, America (2017)” by Shovels and Rope                                                                Favorite line: “You talk like this but you live like that/says ‘go back home’ on your welcome mat”

I had to debate this one, but it only got officially released in early 2018, so I’m counting it.

  1. “This is America” by Childish Gambino                                                                       Favorite line: “you’re a big dog/i kenneled in the backyard/no proper life for a dog”

The best video of the year, and there really was no close competition.

  1. “I dance like this” by David Byrne

Favorite line:  “I dance like this/because it feels so damn good”

40 years after fronting Talking Heads, David Byrne continues to make waves…this one just happens to be fighting back against the idea that the biggest entertainers in the world also happen to dance on stage…

  1. “Chevrolet van” by The Nude Party

favorite line:  “spend half of your life in that Chevrolet/driving up and down the freeway/someday when you’re too old to play/yeah, you’ll wish you had a job”

I don’t even care that it’s a country song, this encapsulated the idea that sometimes, you don’t do something because you want to, you do it because you feel it in your bones.

  1. “Three” by Lily Allen

favorite line:  “please don’t go/stay here with me/it’s not my fault/I’m only three”

Basically the same concept as “The Mother” coming in at number 8, but somehow more heartbreaking because it’s from the point of view of the child.

1.  “Octagon octagon” by Dr. Octagon

Favorite lie:  “everything got the world going in octagon circles”.

Doctor Octagon is the alter-ego of Kool Keith, formerly of Ultramagnetic MCs.  He first put out an album under the moniker in 1996 (cleverly titled Octagonecologyst), and didn’t make a follow up until 2018.  This track is a play on “what have they been doing with their time between albums” that a lot of recording artists hear.  The new album title also taught me the meaning of horripilation (a fancy word for goosebumps).

PS.  How does this song not have an official video??

Top 50 songs of 2018: #s 50 -21

50.  Viaduct-  Minus the Bear

In my standard, just glad that it happened slot, I have to say…welcome back Minus the Bear.

49.  We Don’t Need this Fascist Groove Thang (Heaven 17 cover)-  LCD Soundsystem

It makes me wish I knew this song before. They’re exactly right, we don’t need this fascist groove thing…

48.  All Out of Catastrophes-  Marissa Nadler

A nice, pleasant track about a women who discovers that her man loves another and makes her escape.

47.  Loving-  Lucero

My god, listen to the heartbreak implicit in the song…

46.  Living in a Simulation-  Fucked Up

If only these guys would stop making concept albums every time and just make a straight up punk record, I would be all over it.  David Comes to Life is still one of my all-time favorite punk albums.

45.  Twisted Highway-  Erika Wennerstrom

The lead singer for Heartless Bastards breaks out on her own.  Though I miss them, this is a good thing to have heard this year.

44.  Let the Bridges Burn-  The Streets

The author of my favorite song of the 2000’s decade returns to The Streets moniker.  God i missed it so.

43.  Prosperity Gospel-  Mudhoney

Mudhoney, in just under 4 minutes, distills and expounds on the evils of money, seen as a virtue.  The respected elders of the “Seattle Scene” still going strong…

42.  Hunger- Florence and the Machine

A pleasant little track about eating disorders.  Hopefully, it brings awareness to the problem.

41.  Thunderpussy-  Thunderpussy

This gem, proclaiming female empowerment, finally got set to album.  Rawr, thunderpussy.

40.  Poverty-  Faustina Masigat

A heartbreaking song about a child coming to the realization that they are living in poverty.  How in the world does this video only have 77 views????

39.  The Thing (Phil Harris cover)-  Adam West

God how I wish this wasn’t one of the last things Adam West ever did, but it is utterly in line with many of his late-era works.

38.  Django Jane-  Janelle Monae

From the Archandroid herself, a women’s empowerment anthem that references Pussy Riot…what’s not to love?

37.  Sinking Ship-  Cake

Welcome back, Cake…glad to hear from you again.

36.  Why Don’t You Stop Me?-  Mitski

I wanted to like her new album more, it’s geting rave reviews, but I liked her previous one better.  Sorry, Mitski…

35.  Sing Me a Song-  Cowboy Junkies

A lovely song about forgiving your self by facing your fears.  Well done…

34.  Transgender Biscuits-  Fantastic Negrito

A protest song for right now from a blues artist who is making great music.

33.  One Week-  The New Dark Ages

Yinz do yourselves a favor and give this song a listen…

32.  Reagan Youth-  Superchunk

Superchunk shows (and tells) us that the disparity that brought us Reagan Youth has happened more than just during that era…and imply that it’s happening again.

31.  All Some Kind of Dream (demo)-  Josh Ritter

Just a nice little song, hoping that the “yes we can” of a decade ago was more than a platitude.

30.  Nameless, Faceless-  Courtney Barnett

The brilliant chorus alone is worth the price of admission to this song.

29.  Profane Rights of Man-  Bad Religion

Speaking truth to power in an age of aristocracy.

28.  Bikini-  Caroline Rose

A silly little song about the objectification of women for money, while saying it’s all about liberation.

27.  Pigs, Sheep & Wolves-  Paul Simon

A great parable about the strong preying on the weak.

26.  Have a Cigar (Pink Floyd cover)-  FIDLAR

Changing the “by the way, which one’s pink” line to “we’ll buy you a new liver/by the way which one is FIDLAR” is what makes this song work.

25.  So Long and Thanks for All the Fish-  A Perfect Circle

Given their penchant for covering quirky songs, I was expecting this to be a cover from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy movie…instead we get the great line, “now Willie Wonka, Major Tom, Ali & Leia have moved on”.  Well done, boys.

24.  Gainesville-  Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

Oh, how glad I am that the band made it bigger than the big time of Gainesville, Florida…

23.  Mr. Tillman-  Father John Misty

Mr. Tillman himself tells the story of the entrapment and feelings of entitlement granted by celebrity status, and the paranoia that comes with it.

22.  Nothing Compares 2 U (demo)-  Prince

Holymotherfuckingshitballs, how good this song is amazes me…maybe it’s just because I am so tired of hearing the Sinead O’Connor version.

21.  FN-2187-  Joseph Chilliams

A spoken jazzy track with three, count them three, Star Wars references.  That’s all you had to say…