According2g.com’s Top Albums of 2012

Posted by The G on December 1, 2012 under G Reviews | 3 Comments to Read

Photos by G.

So my list of top albums of 2012 will be divided into 3 sections.  First will be my top 5 albums of 2012.  Next will be 3 albums I like but I don’t love and finally will be the three biggest disappointments of the year.

My favorite 5.

Lonerism by Tame Impala

Lonerism by Tame Impala

1. “Lonerism” by Tame Impala.  Lana Del Rey’s album had been on heavy rotation with me for the first 9 months of the year and in October, when Tame Impala’s 2nd album “Lonerism” was released, I listened to it obsessively and still can’t get enough!  As a whole, the album is a musical journey and experience of epic psychedelic proportions.  Groovy guitars, rockin’ beats and lead singer Kevin Parker’s voice, which to me sounds like a perfect amalgam of John Lennon and George Harrison.  I love this album so much I am already dying in anticipation for their next album (which as of press time isn’t coming out any time soon).  My favorite track on the album is a song called “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards,” which seriously makes me feel like I am floating when I hear it.  And if you can track down the non-album bonus track “Led Zeppelin,” it’s a must hear!

Born To Die by Lana Del Rey

Born To Die by Lana Del Rey

2. “Born to Die” by Lana Del Rey.  There are two camps: Lana lovers and Lana haters.  It’s rare to see such a strong reaction to a singer, when there are artists out there that are obvious targets being completely devoid of talent.  Lana Del Rey is gorgeous and has a unique voice that sounds like a tragic torch song singer.  Her lyrics are all about being a bad girl and her adventures with bad boys.  The music definitely is a throwback to another time and the album is packed with great songs.  The heavenly and noir “Blue Jeans” and “Video Games” went viral and put Lana on the map.  The album came out in January and in November, she released a special “Paradise Edition” with 8 additional tracks and the songs are just as epic as the regular album tracks.

A Thing Called Divine Fits by Divine Fits

A Thing Called Divine Fits by Divine Fits

3. “A Thing Called Divine Fits” by Divine Fits.  Divine Fits is a super-group comprised of Britt Daniel from Spoon, Dan Boeckner from Wolf Parade (both on guitar and vocals), Sam Brown from New Bomb Turks (on drums) and Alex Fischel (on keyboards).   This combination makes for a solid and quite funky garage rock album.  I especially love the songs “For Your Heart” (with a great vocal delivery on the chorus “You better tell me why you keep me searching in the dark for your heart.”) and “My Love is Real” (which features another great line – “My love is real until it stops”).

Beacon by Two Door Cinema Club

Beacon by Two Door Cinema Club

4. “Beacon” by Two Door Cinema Club.  I love Two Door Cinema Club.  Their debut album made my best albums list when it was released in 2010 and I’m so happy to report that I enjoy their 2nd album so much.  TDCC has a winning formula – short, sweet and to the point dance/rock songs that are all upbeat and instantly catchy.   It’s hard to pick a favorite song since I like the entire record and I am so glad that there’s no sophomore jinx with Two Door Cinema Club.

Django Django by Django Django

Django Django by Django Django

5. “Django Django” by Django Django.  The debut album from the British (via Scotland) quartet is hard to define sonically.  It has elements of pop, rock, dance, shoegaze, grunge, garage rock, 90s alternative, chillwave and is another album that is very cohesive when you listen to it from start to finish.  Lead singer Vincent Neff’s voice sometimes sounds like David Gilmour from Pink Floyd and sometimes Django’s music sounds like Syd Barrett era Floyd, without sounding derivative.  So many of the songs including “Firewater,” “Love’s Dart,” “Life’s A Beach” and “Default” are so good that you will listen to them on repeat.

Bonus:

EP that I love:

Young Empires

Young Empires

5a.  “Wake All My Youth” by Young Empires.  When I discovered the music of Canadian dance/funk/punk band Young Empires, I fell in love at first listen.  Every one of their songs is danceable and catchy and I had their 7 track EP on repeat for months on end.  Since the EP was released, the trio has become a quartet (adding a drummer) and if you think the songs are good on record, wait until you hear them performed live.  They are transformed into an even bigger and more rocking dance party and I am praying that 2013 sees a full length release from Young Empires.

Albums I like but don’t love.

Elysium by Pet Shop Boys

Elysium by Pet Shop Boys

6. “Elysium” by Pet Shop Boys.  You know how I love my boys!  Their 2009 album “Yes” ranks amongst my favorite PSB albums and 25 years into their career, that is extra awesome.  They decided to work with Kayne West’s producer (lord knows why) and record the album in LA, so you’d kind of expect upbeat and punchy songs that you could listen to as you drive down Pacific Coast Highway.  Instead, the tracks are mostly slow and subdued.  The first song “Leaving” is a perfect upbeat PSB track and the final song “Requiem in Denim and Leopard Skin” is an epic closing track (that sounds incredibly similar to “DJ Culture Mix” that was released in the early 90s).  The B-sides from the album are quite good and they are a lot more upbeat than the album tracks and in fact a lot of the album tracks sound like they should be b-sides.  It’s refreshing that Pet Shop Boys are still capable of making good music because many of their contemporaries have long since lost it.

Julian Plenti Lives by Paul Banks

Julian Plenti Lives by Paul Banks

7. “Banks” by Paul Banks.  The lead singer of Interpol has made another solo record (and an EP).  Rather than use his alter-ego Julian Plenti, Banks uses his real name for a collection of good but not great songs. He also released the EP “Julian Plenti Lives…” (as pictured above) in 2012.  This is not to say there are not great songs on the album.  The lead off song “The Base” is excellent (and my favorite track on the record).  At the 2:37 mark when Paul sings “So steep,” is probably my favorite moment on the record.  There are a lot of Interpol-worthy tracks such as “Young Again” and “I’ll Sue You,” but a some instrumentals and a couple sample heavy tracks leave me thinking this is more like album filler.

Coexist by The XX

Coexist by The XX

8. “Co-Exist” by The XX.  This is an album that I really enjoy when I listen to it from start to finish.  It’s super mellow and is a really good early morning or late night album.  The problem I find is that I often like to make a playlist where I put all of my current favorite albums in and hit shuffle and when I hear many of these songs individually, often they are not the right vibe I am looking for.  In a way, it’s a casualty of the 2-second attention span generation to me.  Now, what I’d love to see for both of The XX’ albums are remix albums with thumping beats.  That would probably propel them into becoming one of my favorite groups.

The 2nd Law by Muse

The 2nd Law by Muse

9. “The 2nd Law” by Muse.  The songs on this album that are good, are not just good, they are some of the best songs EVER.  Opening up with the epic track “Supremacy,” the song is almost like an alt-rock version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen because it has elements of so many kinds of music in it.  In terms of epic-ness, the song sounds like a James Bond theme and I freely admit, the first time I listened to it, my mouth dropped open – which is a feat that doesn’t occur very often.  The lyrics are a continuation of “Uprising” which would become the world’s national anthem if it were up to me. The album also features really great and catchy rock songs like “Panic Station,” “Survival,” (whose first chorus is one of the best rock and roll moments of 2012) “Madness” and “Follow Me.”  A dub-step instrumental and a handful of weak tracks towards the end of the record as compared to the genius of the way the album opens are the Achilles heel of the record stopping it from it achieving world dominance.

Magic Hour by Scissor Sisters

Magic Hour by Scissor Sisters

10. “Magic Hour” by Scissor Sisters.  When I first heard this album, I had many “WTF?” moments, but the record grew on me over time.  It appeared that in desperation to have a worldwide hit record, the very unique band worked with a bunch of “it” producers.  I sort of understand this logic as they are huge in other parts of the world and their native United States just doesn’t seem to get it.  I truly think it’s tragic as I’ve had so much fun over the years seeing them perform and their albums are filled with catchy dance music that is a lot more fun than your typical mainstream fare and perhaps that is why they’ve been one of America’s best kept secrets.  If the US seemed to miss it from albums 1-3, the cat was let out of the bag with the summer anthem “Let’s Have A Kiki” which is an expression that has deservedly worked its way into the pop culture vernacular.

 

Albums that really disappointed me.

Gwen Stefani and Adrian Young of No Doubt.

11. “Push and Shove” by No Doubt.  I’m from Orange County, California where No Doubt are from, so not only have I been a fan of theirs for longer than you have, but I’ve been waiting more impatiently than you for a new record.  I think the band started to really lose creativity after their breakthrough album “Tragic Kingdom” was released.  They started to sound less like themselves and became “No Doubt lite” in attempt to sell more records.  Not to say they didn’t have some good songs, but overall both post-Tragic Kingdom albums were stinkers.  Lead singer Gwen Stefani’s solo albums are both terrible and completely soul-less despite working with every “it producer” under the sun.  Setting my standards really low for the new album, it surpassed my expectations and was even worse than I could have imagined!  Squeaky clean No Doubt ballads?  Obviously the band all has kids now and they’ve made it known that they would record only in between feeding times and family obligations.  The bad thing is, I thought they’d be able to conceal it better, but it clearly shows in the extremely dull tracks they have convinced themselves into saying in public are their best material.

Madonna

Madonna

12. “MDNA” by Madonna.  Another dull record.  Madonna tries to act like someone 20 years younger both on stage and on record – on stage by still showing the world her tits and on record by working with the flavor of the month producers.  STOP DOING THAT!  Just make a Madonna record!  Give us a dance groove that is irresistible and makes us want to forget our cares and throw our hands in the air.  That’s why the world fell in love with Madonna and that’s what people really want to hear.  Inserting raps by Nicki Minaj (with her touting how great Madonna is) is fucking embarrassing and not necessary.  Her song “I Don’t Give A” which is all about how much Madonna multitasks makes me feel as much pity for her as I do for spoiled rotten rich people that are complaining how hard they have it.  This mixed bag collection also features songs that sound like pale imitations of old songs, and it makes the listener want to reach for her older music instead.  Madonna shouldn’t be counted out entirely because she made the song “Gang Bang” which is unlike any song she’s ever done before and that gives me hope much more than her “poor me syndrome” and Kaballah filled lyrics give me.

Shirley Manson of Garbage

Shirley Manson of Garbage

13. “Not Your Kind of People” by Garbage.  It’s great that mid-90’s alt-rockers Garbage have set aside their differences and made a new record.  Many of the songs sound like classic era Garbage tracks but they suffer from not having the hooks that make you want to listen to their early stuff on repeat.  I love the track “Blood For Poppies” a lot, but I admit that it had to grow on me before I really fell in love with it, whereas I used to find myself falling in love instantly with Garbage songs.  Though the album is a little uneven, I won’t miss seeing them live because they still know how to rock an audience!

What were your favorites?  What disappointed you?  Don’t be shy.  But let’s keep the discussion on music, ok?

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Review: Madonna live at Madison Square Garden (1st Night)

Posted by The G on November 13, 2012 under G Reviews | 9 Comments to Read

Photos by G.

Madonna

Madonna

Oh Madge!  Madonna is wrapping up her MDNA world tour with 2 nights at New York’s Madison Square Garden.  I attended the first night on November 12, 2012.  Luckily I’d gotten the memo that she goes on EXTRA late, so I wasn’t one of the bitter concert goers who arrived when the doors opened at 7 pm, only to have to wait for Madonna to take the stage nearly FOUR hours later.  Madonna hit the stage around 10:45 and finished 2 hours later at 12:45 am!  I’ve never seen anything end that late at an arena show, but I guess there’s a first time for everything.

Madonna

Madonna

I enjoyed the Madonna show, but not for the reasons I usually enjoy concerts.  Madonna’s show is less of a concert and more of a Broadway-esque spectacle where they just happen to be dancing to Madonna tunes all night.  At 54 years old, you’ve got to respect that she’s taken care of her body and she looks great.  I am not entirely sure if that’s a reason to strip down to your bra and panties in front of 20,000 people (and with your children present), but I digress.

Madonna

Madonna

The Madonna show was filled with great dancing, and she seems to have doubled the number of dancers she usually has on stage with her.  During any given song, there were great acrobatics and every move was choreographed with precision.  There were the usual Madonna-esque “look at how shocking I can be” moments as she toted a fake machine gun, dry humped a bed, the stage floor and many of her dancers, did a strip tease and had visuals of dying babies, poverty and memorials of some people who’ve died of AIDS killed themselves from being bullied playing on screens behind her.

Madonna

Madonna

There was even a section where Madonna turned her microphone on and talked to the crowd about the recent US Presidential election (and she advised “regardless of your political views, we all need to work together”), the victims of Hurricane Sandy (as she was wearing very little and told the crowd that rather than just stare at her ass when she’s dressed this way, they should throw money at her so she can donate it) and she mentioned that we should be grateful for our freedom because artists like Pussy Riot are not allowed to freely express their opinions.  Speaking of Pussy Riot, Madonna was selling “Free Pussy Riot” T-shirts at the concert and I sure hope the moneys from those shirts go to help them instead of going to help the Madonna fund.

Madonna

Madonna

As Madonna was telling the crowd to be nicer people and to come together as one, I found it hard to keep a straight face (and found it hard to believe SHE could keep a straight face during this segment) because if you’ve ever tried to meet Madonna in person, she’s one of the nastiest celebrities you could ever encounter!  Although I’ve been a fan of her since she started (yes, I am THAT old), her “do as I say, not as I do” rhetoric has left me cold and because of all the great experiences I have with so many people who rock my world, I’d rather devote my time, energy and money into the plethora of talented artists who haven’t lost all touch with reality.

Madonna

Madonna

She performed truncated dance remixes of a lot of her more recent material including “Hung Up” and “Give it 2 Me” as well as a large section of her most recent album MDNA with tracks such as “Gang Bang,” “Gimmie All Your Luvin’,” “Girl Gone Wild,” “Masterpiece,” “Turn up The Radio,” “Love Spent,” “I’m Addicted,” and “I’m A Sinner.”  She also revisited a few (literally) of her classic songs in the form of reworked versions of “Like A Virgin” (which sounded like a funeral waltz), “Vogue,” “Open Your Heart,” “Like A Prayer” and “Express Yourself,” which she took her well publicized jab at Lady Gaga by singing the chorus of Gaga’s “Born This Way” over the music of her own track since the two songs sound quite similar.

Madonna

Madonna

Although she did some serious dancing, Madonna sat down on the job for a nice chunk of the show.  She sat on the stage (or laid down on the stage) for many songs and she took some extra breathers as she played her guitar for a couple of tracks.  There were the usual multiple outfit changes as her show was divided into sections where they’d play 4 or 5 tracks and the as she was off changing clothes, the show focused on a dancing sequence and video screens showed off new versions of her songs (such as “Justify My Love,” “Nobody Knows Me” and a hits medley).

Madonna

Madonna

Madonna strutted around a triangle shaped stage and it makes you wonder how many people she has on her crew setting up and tearing down the stage night after night and transporting it to different cities.  No matter my opinion of the show, I can’t deny that the logistics are pretty impressive.  As Madonna is approaching her mid-50s, it will be interesting to see the next incarnation of her career because you can say a lot of bad things about her, but you cannot deny that she is definitely the Queen of Reinvention.

Madonna

Madonna

The setlist was:

Gregorian Chant Intro / Girl Gone Wild / Revolver / Gang Bang / Papa Don’t Preach / Hung Up / I Don’t Give A / Best Friend (video segment) / Express Yourself – Born This Way / Gimmie All Your Luvin’ / Hits Medley (video segment) / Turn Up The Radio / Open Your Heart / Masterpiece / Justify My Love (video segment) / Vogue / Candy Shop / Human Nature / Love Spent / Nobody Knows Me (video segment) / I’m Addicted / I’m A Sinner / Like A Prayer / Celebration / Give It 2 Me

Madonna

Madonna – The Merch

Madonna and Rocco Ritchie

Madonna and Rocco Ritchie

MDNA by Madonna. The G Review

Posted by The G on March 22, 2012 under G Reviews | 2 Comments to Read

Photo by G.

MDNA by Madonna. Available March 27, 2012.

Madonna has leaked all over the internet!  No I am not referring to complications from her obvious plastic surgery/botox disaster of a face.  I am referring to her latest album “MDNA,” which will be released worldwide on March 27, 2012.  Normally, this would be where I go into a diatribe about how obvious it is that the record companies are leaking music and then claiming “poor me” syndrome when sales of lackluster music fail to break chart records, but we can save that conversation for another day.  Before I give you my two cents on “MDNA,” let me tell you a few things – I have been a Madonna fan since 1983 and if she did what the real Queen of Pop, Kylie Minogue, is doing which is having an “anti-tour” where she’s only playing obscure and unreleased songs and ZERO hits, I’d come running back to the Queen of C-word (Controversy), faster than the walls of Madonna’s Vagina Fly Trap close in on hot young Brazilian boys.  I’ve been very dissatisfied with the majority of Madonna’s music over the last 10 years and judging from the first single “Give Me All Your Luvin,” which is possibly the worst and most embarrassing single she’s ever released, I walk into this album with an open mind, but with the probability that I am going to be very disappointed.  I realize that speaking any bad words about Madonna is obviously going to piss off some die-hards, but seriously, she may have a religious name but the similarity ends there!  So here we go…

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BREAKING NEWS: Madonna Has No Idea What An Anagram Is

Posted by The G on March 11, 2012 under GNN | 3 Comments to Read

Photo by G.

Nothing Really Matters

Nothing Really Matters by Madonna

I read this quote from Madonna about her new album title MDNA on NME this morning:  “It’s an anagram of my name.  I don’t really think about controversy, I think about irony.”

Here’s the irony.  Madonna doesn’t know what an anagram is!  An anagram is the result of rearranging the letter of a word or phrase to produce a new word or phrase, using all the original letters exactly once.

I point this out solely because Madonna consistently talks in the press to her minions of fans about destroying her ego and in fact, she probably has one of the largest egos on the planet.  If you ever meet her in person when there are no cameras rolling, you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.  Sure there are worse people out there in the world, but if you reward bad behaviour, you enable it to continue.  If we all talk about how we want to see change in the world, CHANGE STARTS WITH YOU!

And that’s one to grow on!

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