According2g.com’s Top 15 Albums & Songs of 2015

Posted by The G on December 1, 2015 under G Reviews | 2 Comments to Read

Photos, videos, words and autographs obtained by G.

If you are unfamiliar with any of these bands, songs or albums listed below, I urge you to open your mind and check them out.  Maybe they won’t be your taste or maybe they will change your life!  And now… According2g.com’s top 15 albums + songs of 2015!!!

Currents by Tame Impala

Currents by Tame Impala

  1. “Currents” by Tame Impala.  By now you should know I am obsessed with this band.  They fuse psychedelic rock and and pop seamlessly on this album, their third, and I can’t get enough of it.  Lead singer Kevin Parker’s voice sounds like a fusion of John Lennon and George Harrison with a little bit of reverb on his vocals.  The opening track “Let It Happen” is over 7 minutes long and I listen to it over and over and over again and months later, I am still not sick of it.  By now you’d think I’d have the lyrics memorized, but the processing on his voice makes the end part sound like he’s signing “Shoobie doobie doobie” to me.  And I’m not complaining!  It makes me smile every time I put this song on repeat.  The songs on “Currents” move away from being so rock oriented and this collection of tracks are the grooviest songs Tame Impala has done to date.  If this is the direction they are headed in, I am ready to take the ride.  I recommend this album, but if albums aren’t your thing, check out “The Less I Know The Better,” “Let It Happen,” “Eventually,” “Cause I’m A Man” and “New Person, Same Old Mistakes.”  If those songs don’t rock your world, we are no longer friends 🙂
Honeymoon by Lana Del Rey

Honeymoon by Lana Del Rey

2. “Honeymoon” by Lana Del Rey.  I’m really glad the world finally stopped hating Lana Del Rey and came to the realization that there is no one else out there in the music scene that is like her.  From her dark lyrics to her noir-esque music, Lana’s songs sound like mini 5 minute soundtracks to David Lynch films that don’t exist yet.  Love her or hate her, no one else opens an album with a 6 minute song that is nearly a capella, save for an orchestral arrangement when the name of the song is sung.  Her lyrics are badass (“you could be a bad motherfucker, but that don’t make you a man”) but she still gets her heart broken (“Ever since my baby went away, it’s been the blackest day/ All I hear is Billie Holliday/ It’s all that I play”) and in between she name checks legends and talks about many of our favorite subjects including getting high by the beach, appreciating art deco and invites you to move to California and become a freak like her.  Oh Lana, you have my heart!

Alex Kapranos of FFS (Franz Ferdinand and Sparks)

Alex Kapranos of FFS (Franz Ferdinand and Sparks)

3. “FFS” by FFS (Franz Ferdinand and Sparks).  Who would have thought pairing 90s rockers Franz Ferdinand and 70s duo Sparks would have been such a great idea, but whoever matched these two bands up deserves a medal.  The 16 song (if you have the deluxe edition) album is as theatrical as a Broadway show and has enough grooves and quirky lyrics to make you listen to this album repeatedly, whilst occasionally laughing out loud at the absurdity.  The opener “Johnny Delusional” talks about not being attractive and trying to impress a hot woman.  With song titles like “Dictator’s Son,” “The Man Without a Tan,” “The Power Couple,” the band knows how to take the piss out of themselves.  In fact, the regular edition of the album closes out with “Collaborations Don’t Work,” and “Piss Off” which is obviously telling critics to piss off, since the results of this collaboration (that does work!) are some of the best work either band has done.  The deluxe edition features the song “So Many Bridges” and just from hearing the title, you think it’s going to be a reflective song, and instead they sing about how there are “so many bridges in the world to jump off from.”  This album rules!

Jarryd James

Jarryd James

4. “Thirty One” by Jarryd James.  Jarryd James is a singer/songwriter from Australia who has a nice mixture of soul, R&B and pop in his songs.  In the age of the piano ballad that makes you want to slit your wrists, Jarryd James is the relief as his music has a beat and many times, a funky little groove.  His album has yet to make a splash in America, but I think with the right marketing, he has the potential to be a big star.  I happened to see that he was playing a concert in New York and the promoter inserted a youtube link to his track “Do You Remember?” and I pressed play, heard about 5 seconds of the song and said “I need to see this guy sing.”  It was a great decision and I enjoyed every song I heard that night and when his album came out, I found the same love for every track on the record.  If you are looking for a starting point, let me recommend “Give Me Something” (for a more upbeat taste) and if you need a slow jam, check out “High.”  I really hope Jarryd’s career takes off because I love this album so much.  I am looking forward to hearing more from Jarryd James and you should be too!

Adele

Adele

5. “25” by Adele.  Hello!  A brilliant album of sad songs.  Adele is so charming when she is interviewed (I’ve met her 3 times and I can confirm the charm), her laugh makes the world a brighter place.  But sad songs are her specialty, so we’ve gotta let Adele be Adele.  Luckily songs like “Send my Love (To Your New Lover)” and “Water Under the Bridge” give us a glimpse of Adele when she is at her most up beat.  The world is her oyster, so hopefully we will get a tour and more music without having to wait years in between.  But Adele lives by her schedule perhaps if more artists did that, we’d get more artful works such as “25.”

Borns

Borns

6. “Dopamine” by Borns.  If T. Rex were alive and making music with the band MGMT in the age of the millennial, it would sound a lot like Borns.  His songs are groovy and soulful with a little bit of psychedelia mixed in.  You’ve got to watch the video for his single “Electric Love,” and if the song and video don’t blow you away, then try the title track “Dopamine,” which will have you repeating the chorus “wanna feel that stream of dopamine” over and over again.  “10,000 Emerald Pools” and “The Emotion” are two of my favorite songs on this great debut.  If you scour the archives of this site, you will find videos of Garrett Borns covering Bowie and Elton John.  You’re welcome!

Judith Hill

Judith Hill

7. “Back In Time” by Judith Hill.  Judith Hill is so bad ass!  She’s sung backing vocals for a list of legends including Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson and for her latest album “Back in Time,” Prince produced it!  This production gives us a throwback to the purple proteges of the 1980s when every song on the record is great and it sounds like a Prince production.  I saw Judith Hill perform a few of these songs live and the studio renditions don’t do her voice justice because this woman can SING!  If you don’t throw your hands up church style when you hear songs like “Cry Cry Cry,” you might need to get your ears checked.  “As Trains Go By,” the album’s opener is that funk that is sorely missing from Prince’s own output these days and “Jammin’ in the Basement” will make you do just that.  Hopefully the world will catch on to the amazing Judith Hill because she deserves to have a career as great and powerful as her voice.

Kylie Minogue

Kylie Minogue

8. “Kylie Christmas” by Kylie Minogue.  Aside from a handful of rock songs, I typically despise Christmas music.  I was pleasantly surprised to find Kylie Minogue’s Christmas record to be a mix of classic x-mas songs with traditional arrangements (“It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” “Santa Claus is Coming To Town,” where they’ve seamlessly spliced in Frank Sinatra’s voice) to 1980’s covers (“2000 Miles” by the Pretenders, “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses – but Kylie’s version is paired with Iggy Pop! and “Only You,” a Yaz(oo) cover “Only You” paired with funny man James Corden – proving he’s got a nice set of pipes) to a disco Christmas song – “100 Degrees,” a duet with her sister, Danii Minogue.  It’s got a little something for everyone and you’ll need the deluxe edition if you want some of the better tracks on the album.  Ho Ho Ho!

Disclosure

Disclosure

9. “Caracal” by Disclosure.  Not as strong as their debut, the sophomore release from the cute Lawrence brothers has some really strong tracks.  In fact, when the tracks are strong, they hit it out of the park and when they are weak, they are little more than album filler.  Their collaborations with The Weeknd (“Nocturnal”), Sam Smith (“Omen”) and Lorde (“Magnets”) make you wish they would do full albums with these artists.

Mark Ronson

Mark Ronson

10 “Uptown Special” by Mark Ronson.  Mark Ronson + Kevin Parker of Tame Impala = G Heaven.  There are in fact 3 collaborations with the pair including “Daffodils,” which is a track so funky, I’ve had it on repeat a lot this year.  But the collaborations don’t stop there, Ronson also works again with Andrew Wyatt of the electronic group Miike Snow (sic) as well as producer Jeff Bhasker and there’s even a little bit of Stevie Wonder’s harmonica featured to open the album.  The record also features the mega smash “Uptown Funk” with Bruno Mars, and to be honest, Bruno’s music is so derivative to my ears that this song sort of sounds like a Saturday Night Live parody of Eddie Murphy doing James Brown, but that’s just me.  The music is funky though, and that’s what matters.  This record is a little patchy in comparison to Ronson’s last effort “Record Collection,” but I still love it.

Young Empires

Young Empires

11. “The Gates” by Young Empires.   There is no greater champion for this band than me, and I was so excited that their full length debut record has finally seen the light of day.  Their music is dance rock, funk punk or “haute rock” as they like to say.  Call it what you want, there are 10 tracks to shake your ass on the dance floor and some of my favorite songs are the reggae tinged “Never Die Young,” “So Cruel,” and “Mercy.”  Below, you can check out a live version of “Sunshine.”  Apologies for it being so dark – that’s rock and roll!

Matt Bellamy of Muse

Matt Bellamy of Muse

12. “Drones” by Muse.  Not their strongest album, but there are so many Muse moments, from their very political lyrics, to Matt Bellamy’s high pitched voice, stadium anthem ready choruses and my favorite moment on the album – the song “Revolt” where Matt Bellamy tells the listener to do exactly that!  FUCK YEAH MUSE!

Bernard Sumner of New Order

Bernard Sumner of New Order

13. “Music Complete” by New Order.  Peter Hook is noticeably absent on bass, but there are guest stars a plenty that range from good “Superheated” (featuring Brandon Flowers of The Killers) to really good “Tutti Frutti” and “People on the High Line” (featuring Elly Jackson of LaRoux) to cringe worthy “Stray Dog” (featuring Iggy Pop).  The strongest tracks on the record, according2g are the obvious tribute to Peter Hook “Unlearn This Hatred” and “Plastic.”

 

Simon LeBon of Duran Duran

Simon LeBon of Duran Duran

14. “Paper Gods” by Duran Duran.  Duran Duran’s career in the 2000s has been all over the map as they released the near-career killing, but mostly pleasant “Pop Trash,” the comeback, but not hugely popular album “Astronaut,” the absolutely horrible “Red Carpet Massacre” (PLEASE don’t ever work with Timbaland again), the criminally underrated “All You Need Is Now” and the spotty “Paper Gods.”  As FFS somewhat rightly noted in entry number 3, collaborations don’t work.  This rings true for some truly WTF moments as DD have collaborated with Kieza on the otherwise good track “Last Night In the City” but she over-divas her vocals and that has no business on a Duran Duran album.  The first single “Pressure Off” also suffers from the ill conceived collaboration with Janelle Monae.  Don’t count Duran Duran out though – their live show is still great and Simon LeBon’s voice sounds better than it has in years.  They perhaps need to just focus on their strengths which are best made with the 4 remaining members of the band.

Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson

15. “Unbreakable” by Janet Jackson.   It’s just so good to hear Janet sing again after the death of her brother and almost a decade long hiatus, she could sing the phone book and it would have made the list.  Don’t ever leave us again Janet!  And check out “No Sleeep” (sic).  It’s classic JJ!

Deluxe Edition:

Madonna, D'Angelo

Madonna, D’Angelo

16 / 17.  “Rebel Heart” by Madonna and “Black Messiah” by D’Angelo and The Vanguard.  Both of these albums were released at the end of 2014, so they don’t really count.  Well, Madonna’s record leaked over 6 months early and didn’t see an official release until 2015, but the versions she picked to give the fans something different than what leaked are nearly all inferior to the leaked versions.   A pity, since this was Madonna’s strongest studio effort in a decade!  On the other hand, “Black Messiah” is a fucking masterpiece by the recluse of R&B, D’Angelo.  Every song on it is not only great, but essential listening.  Let’s hope he is inspired, after the universal love he got for this album, to continue to release music in intervals shorter than every 14 years.

Here are my Top 15 songs of 2015.  I’m going to save the commentary, so seek out these tracks!

  1. Erik Hassle – “No Words”
  2. Nervo (featuring Jake Shears, Kylie Minogue, Nile Rodgers) – “The Other Boys”
  3. Mac Demarco – “Just To Put Me Down”
  4. Father John Misty – “I Love You Honeybear”
  5. Yacht – “Matter”
  6. Leon Bridges – “River”
  7. Charli XCX – “Sucker”
  8. Duffy – “Whole Lotta Love”
  9. The Maccabees – “Marks To Prove It”
  10. Penguin Prison – “Show Me The Way”
  11. Guy Garvey – “Angela’s Eyes”
  12. Beck – “Dreams”
  13. Van Hunt – “The Fun Rises The Fun Sets”
  14. Lianne LaHavas – “Unstoppable”
  15. Courtney Barnett – “Small Poppies”

 

What’s on your list?

Review: A Conversation with D’Angelo at Brooklyn Museum

Posted by The G on May 22, 2014 under Encounters with G, G Reviews | Read the First Comment

Photos by G.

D'Angelo

D’Angelo

One of the most reclusive figures in music came out of hiding last night on May 21, 2014 as the Red Bull Music Academy hosted “A Conversation with D’Angelo” at the Brooklyn Museum.  The auditorium was packed with fans, like me all who thought we’d finally get some of our questions answered – namely “WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN FOR THE LAST 14 YEARS?!”

Nelson George and D'Angelo

Nelson George and D’Angelo

Music critic Nelson George moderated the conversation and it was super fascinating, even though extremely light on subjects such as the two solo albums D’Angelo has released over the last 20 years, 1995’s “Brown Sugar” (which was mentioned very briefly) and 2000’s “Voodoo” (which was discussed for much less time than D’Angelo’s first band – I.D.U. which stands for Intelligent, Deadly, Unique).  Name-checked during the conversation were Jesse Johnson, Alan Leeds, Prince and Questlove (who came up to the stage twice to help fill in D’Angelo’s stories).  It was also amusing that D’Angelo smoked cigarettes on stage inside the auditorium of a museum!  This is the second time I’ve seen someone smoke cigarettes near art (the first being Courtney Love).

D'Angelo and Questlove

D’Angelo and Questlove

The most fascinating fact of the night had nothing to do with D’Angelo’s music and instead it was about Sly Stone (of Sly and The Family Stone).  D’Angelo mentioned that he’s met with Sly and Sly’s played him some of the “vast amounts” of unreleased music that he’s consistently recorded over the years including Sly’s experimentation with Auto-Tune, but D’Angelo said that he takes the vocal enhancer to a whole new level of weirdness – and could we expect any less from Sly?  Will those Sly songs ever see the light of day?  We have no idea.  Will any new studio material from D’Angelo ever see the light of day?  We have no idea.  Though I thoroughly enjoyed watching the talk, I learned less about D’Angelo than is on his Wikipedia page, which was not just disappointing, but it left me scratching my head wondering why “the elephant in the room” (aka “why has there been no new music in 14 years aside from a surprise concert here and there over the years”) was not the focal point of this discussion.

Until there is new music, at least the world has the classic “Voodoo” and “Brown Sugar” albums to help us groove and make babies to.  Any time you want to release music, the world is ready, willing and waiting!

Apparently the conversation was streamed live over the internet and I am not sure if it will be archived for later viewing, so check Google.

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Video: D’Angelo’s Return in 2012

Posted by The G on March 20, 2013 under GNN | Be the First to Comment

Video courtesy of the internet.

Not a big fan of posting other people’s videos, but since I was literally just listening to a bootleg of this show over the weekend, featuring quite possibly the only live performance of The Time’s “My Summertime Thang” (not performed by either Prince or The Time, but instead) by D’Angelo (featuring Eric Leeds, Jesse Johnson and Questlove), you have to check this out.  It’s the first part of a documentary showing D’Angelo’s return to the live stage in the USA at 2012’s Bonnarroo Festival.  Since this video features a Prince cover, it will likely be taken down before the end of the day because Prince is a motherfucking douche bag.  But until then…

Some more details:

All music was remixed by Questlove.
Filmed and directed by Danny Clinch.

 

Episode Rundown and Tracklist:
 
1.  Origins :  Featuring “My Summertime Thang” by The Time written by Prince

 

2.  Getting The Band Back Together:  Featuring

Pride and Vanity by the Ohio Players

 

3.  Hit It and Quit It: Featuring “Funky Dollar Bill” and

“Hit It and Quit It” by Parliament Funkadelic

 

4.  The Return of D’Angelo:  Featuring
“She Came In Through the Bathroom Window” by the Beatles

 

Band Members:
D’Angelo:  Vocals, Keyboards, Guitar
Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson: Drums (The Roots)
Pino Palladino: Bass (The Who)
Eric Leeds: Saxophone (Prince)
Jesse Johnson: Guitar (The Time, Prince, Janet Jackson)
Captain Kirk: Guitar (The Roots)
James Posyer: Keyboards (The Roots)
Frank Knuckles: Percussion (The Roots)
Kendra Foster (Vocals)

An Encounter with D’Angelo

Posted by The G on March 7, 2013 under Encounters with G | Be the First to Comment

Photos by G.

D'Angelo

D’Angelo

In 1995, I was working at a record store when D’Angelo’s debut album “Brown Sugar” came out.  It was love at first listen and I’ve been a fan of D’Angelo ever since.  He released a second genius album “Voodoo” in 2000 and then took an extremely long hiatus.  He’s been playing gigs off and on for the last year and I have some good news.  D’Angelo is set to release a new single in April 2013!   D’Angelo is playing a tribute to Prince tonight at Carnegie Hall and you’d be incorrect if you thought there was a chance in hell that I was going to miss out on meeting one of my favorites.  D’Angelo was very nice and signed both of his CDs for me.  He wasn’t super crazy about taking a photo, but he was cool enough to do his best to try and get into it for my sake because obviously he felt my excitement. 🙂  Thanks a million for that D’Angelo.  Meeting you was a pleasure I never thought I’d have.  Welcome back and please don’t stay away so long.  Me and all of your other legions of fans have really missed you!

D'Angelo and Geoffrey Dicker

D’Angelo and Geoffrey Dicker

Pattern Is Movement live at Music Hall of Williamsburg

Posted by The G on October 8, 2010 under Encounters with G, G Reviews, G Videos | Be the First to Comment

Photos and Video by G.

On October 7, 2010, Philadelphia’s indie 2 piece rock band Pattern is Movement opened for !!! (Chk Chk Chk) at Music Hall of Williamsburg in New York.  Their 30 minute set had very minimal lighting, but the band’s sound was anything but minimal.  Lead singer Andrew Thiboldeaux has vocals that fall somewhere between an opera singer, R&B singer Van Hunt  and Morrissey and drummer Chris Ward played the hell out of the drums.  The songs ranged from melancholy to funky and back again and myself as well as the crowd was loving it.  To give you an example of their sound, I took a video of their cover of D’Angelo’s “Untitled (How Does It Feel).”  As I mentioned above, the lighting was very minimal so the video is quite dark.  It’s fine.  Just close your eyes and listen to Andrew Thiboldeaux KILL it on vocals.  I mean that in an excellent way.  I met the band after the set and they were both really cool.  I gushed at how much I enjoyed “Untitled” and they were both very gracious.  You can see pictures of Pattern Is Movement after the jump.  Thanks again guys and if you like this cover as much as I do, pass it on…

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