Posts Tagged ‘cake’

5 Underrated A+ Albums

Sixteen Stone by Bush

While I’ll admit that I’m not the biggest Bush fan, this album really deserves more credit than it’s given. Maybe it didn’t redefine a genre or put the world on its head, but it accomplished a lot. I feel like whenever a song from this album comes on the radio I have to defend it, and that doesn’t seem right to me, and it’s actually the reason I thought about writing this article.

Bush will forever be known as the band that showed up to the party late. Kurt Cobain was already dead, Pearl Jam was trying to stay relevant, and Soundgarden was either broken up or on their way there, and then in comes Bush. And they weren’t bad. Most new grunge bands would have been mocked and shunned, but Bush was actually so good that the genre most people were tired of became interesting again. “Machinehead” and “Glycerine” were GIANT hits and are accepted as such today.

The band kind of disappeared after this album. They released that song “Mouth” and kept trying to reclaim their former glory while changing their sound, but it wasn’t happening. Today, people kind of seem to think they’re a joke, but let me run some info by you. The album contains 6 songs that charted higher than number 4 on the Billboard music charts. The album itself peaked at #4, and has sold over six million copies. This was all AFTER grunge was popular. This is like someone coming out and releasing an amazing Rock/Rap album right now. Making old hat into new hat is pretty impressive, so my hat is off to them.

 

Ixnay on the Hombre by The Offspring

Before they went off and got kinda poppy and funny, The Offspring were kinda punk. Their first major album, Smash, was pretty high octane and didn’t pull any punches. It contained all the hits you likely remember, “Self Esteem”, Bad Habit”, and “Come Out and Play”. When their second major album came out, a lot of people were excited to hear where they would take their sound.

The album was still kinda punk, complete with a disclaimer at the album’s start, voiced by Jello Biafra of The Dead Kennedys. The album is a just as loud and charged as Smash and really kept their tempo up and their fire burning. The singles from the album, “Gone Away”, “I Choose”, and “All I Want” were pretty great and didn’t get as much attention as they deserve, especially “Gone Away”.

Today, when people look back on their career, people remember Smash, and then they remember “Pretty Fly for a White Guy” and “Why Don’t You Get a Job”, leaving Ixnay on the Hombre out of the picture. Their new stuff is cool, but it has more meaning when looking at it in context of a band with punk roots who took their message into the mainstream. Ixnay on the Hombre is a great album that many fans of outspoken, raw music should look into.

 

Fashion Nugget by Cake

In 1996, Cake got some recognition based on the success of the single “The Distance”, but their fame was sporadic at best from there. They have experienced spikes in popularity in their career after Fashion Nugget with hits like “Never There”, and “Short Skirt, Long Jacket”, but most people did themselves a disservice by letting this gem pass them by.

The album opens with “Frank Sinatra”:

and delivers track after track of fun, witty, catchy, well written, and downright enjoyable songs. There isn’t a track on this album from the somber “Sad Songs and Waltzes” to the cover of the 1947 song “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” that under-delivers; the album really shows the band’s range and writing styles in a powerful way.

Any Cake CD deserves your attention, but the most underrated of the group’s catalog is Fashion Nugget. While other albums show an evolution of their trademark sound, this album is as close to perfect as many might hope for. In a time when the music world should be begging for a fresh, fun, and outspoken group like Cake, the mainstream seem to keep letting them slip by. It’s nearly criminal.

 

Girlfriend by Matthew Sweet

I know you might think I’m crazy for putting this cult classic in here, but my point is that this album deserved much more than cult classic status. I bought this album without being too sure what to expect, but after the first few songs it’s hard not to be impressed. How so many people had never heard of Matthew Sweet before Guitar Hero featured “Girlfriend” is beyond me. The man has immense talent.

The guitar work of Matthew Sweet is something very special, and his songwriting ability is tremendous. The first 6 songs on this CD is one of the best beginning to any I’ve ever heard. From “Divine Intervention” to “Evangeline”, the album starts off with a showcase of talent and passion for not only the music he’s writing, but for the topics he addresses within each song.

While the album has been called one of the best power-pop records of the 90’s, today it is often overlooked and deserves a lot more attention than it gets. The videos for the songs “Girlfriend” and “I’ve Been Waiting” are made from a blend of Japanese animation and music, and was pretty cutting edge for the time.

From the harmonizing to the crazy guitar solos, Girlfriend offers up a lot more than many people might imagine. I listened to this album many times, and every time I listen to it I feel like I hear something new. It’s a beautiful album.

 

High Voltage

I’ve said for a long time, if someone asked me to show them what rock music was all about, I’d give them an AC/DC album. But let me clairify: I’d give them an album before Bon Scott died. After Bon Scott died, things changed, but ask any casual listener today and they might not even know about it. Brian Johnson came in after the tragic death of Bon Scott and did a great job with Back in Black and subsequent records as well. Bittersweet as it may be, Back in Black was so big that it’s easy to forget just how amazing the band was before the change.

The older albums had something the new stuff just doesn’t. Bon Scott added lyrics to the music that fit. He was a bad ass and he let everyone know it. Songs like “Live Wire”, “The Jack”, and “Rocker” cannot be recreated by any musician with the same amount of truth. The newer stuff feels too much like Brian Johnson is just trying pretend he’s Bon Scott. It makes sense to try, but none of his lyrics really come close to the badassery that was Bon Scott.

And of these older records, I feel the most underrated is High Voltage. For a debut album, it is simply amazing. The raw power of the band, and the in-your-face lyrics push this album to the front of the line when looking at some of the best rock albums of all time. From the very start with the song “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock’n’Roll)” to the very last song “High Voltage”, AC/DC paints an accurate picture for the world of just what kind of power they’re unleashing.

I know the US version of this album went platinum, but today it’s one of the last albums a casual listener or new fan might pick up. Songs like “The Jack” have been retooled by and rewritten by Brian Johnson, and some people might even hear the (better) original versions after they’ve heard the new stuff. It’s a shame.

The most popular song on this album is “T.N.T.” but every one of these rockers could have been hit singles. In my opinion “Live Wire” is one of the best songs the band has ever written. Between the screaming classic guitar riffs and the bad ass lyrics that proclaim the power of AC/DC, it’s impossible to deny that this album should be the starting point for any new fan and should go down in history as, quite possibly, if not THE, then one of the very best quintessential rock albums ever made.

 

 

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Last Minute Gift Guide

So it’s almost Christmas and you forgot to get someone their gift.  You can go out and try to find something tonight, but you know the malls are going to be freakishly packed, it’s going to be hard to find what you want, and everyone is going to be in a really shitty mood to say the least. so why subject yourself to picking through ransacked shelves and bins when you can find all you need online, and for a lot cheaper?
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MUSIC
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Ok, let’s start with music.  Everyone knows you can find awesome cheap music on Amazon.com used.  But with so much to choose from, it’s easy to get lost.  So, allow me to pick out some music that is sure to please everyone on your list this season.
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First of all, why not give the gift of CAKE?  I just saw this band live for the first time and it was amazing.  I’ve seen KISS, I’ve seen AC/DC, I’ve seen They Might Be Giants 10 times, but Cake is hands down the most entertaining and fun band I’ve ever seen.  This translates over their albums very well.
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I own 3 Cake CD’s and each is gold from start to finish.  Most their albums are only about $4 online.  I recommend “Prolonging the Magic” which features such hits as “Never There” and “Sheep Go To Heaven (Goats Go To Hell)”
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And also “Fashion Nugget” which features they’re biggest single “The Distance” and a great cover of Tina Turner’s “I Will Survive.”
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Why does Cake make a great gift?  Most people will remember them from one song or another and will be pleasantly surprized with how good their music is as a whole.  Also, like I said, they’re the best live band I’ve seen in a very long time, maybe ever, and your friends will thank you for introducing them to such a great act.
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For lovers of a different kind of music, let’s talk Hellacopters.  The Swedish rock band recently called it quits, but with hits like “(Gotta Get Some Action) Now!” and “Carry Me Home,”  the rock revival group is still at the forefront of the “Bands You Should Know About” category.  You can find Hellacopter CD’s used online anywhere from less than a dollar to fifteen dollars for the rarer stuff (since they’re from overseas).
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I suggest the album “By the Grace of God” which includes Carry Me Home and this title track:
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Damn, I love that song.  Good video, too.
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Why do the Hellacopters make a great gift? Say you have a friend who is really into classic rock or just feels like music today isn’t what it used to be.  Maybe your dad or your uncle or something like that.  A lot of people who feel this way have no idea that there are new band out today that sound like this.  Hit them with a Hellacopters CD and suddenly the radio might be on a lot more than the turntable.
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Maybe you’re not in the rock market.  Daft Punk as exploded in popularity over the last five years and has gone from being rave background noise to the premiere mainstream, cream of the crop electronic dance duo.  They’ve appeared in DJ hero, just completed a second wildly successful world tour, and are writing all the music in the upcoming Tron movie.  If you know someone who should know about Daft Punk, used CD’s are only about $2 online.
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But, if you know someone who loves Daft Punk and can’t seem to find other music in the same vein, here are some suggestions:
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Ratatat:
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You can find used CD’s as low as a buck!  I suggest their self titled album.
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Kasabian:
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You can find CD’s as low as about two dollars.  I suggest they’re album, “Empire.”  That song from the video isn’t on that album, but that’s a pretty sweet video, right?
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You can also go way back and hit someone with some nostalgia with a Fatboy Slim album:
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I suggest “You’ve Come a Long Way Baby.”  It’s got some big hits on it and it’s only a penny used!  The greatest hits album is $10 used, but if you can afford it, got for it.
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Movies
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Since, everyone has different tastes I put together a small list of the movies you can find used on Amazon for dirt cheap.  Check this out:
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The Godfather: $5 and change
The Shawshank Redemption: $4.99 new!  only about $3 used
Ghostbusters 1&2: about $4
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly: $2
Bubble Boy: $2
Robocop: $2
The Karate Kid: $2
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It’s hard to find the right movie for someone.  Chances are if they really love a movie, they own it already.  Also, you never know if someone isn’t going to like a particular movie because of an actor or director or something silly like that.  So here are some sleeper films that are sure to please even the most picky:
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Godzilla- Final Wars: $4 and change
The Incredible Mr. Limpet: $2.22
Con Air: $3.50
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: $5 and change
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Video Games
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Aside from the steal I reviewed a couple of weeks ago (The Getaway for only pennies!), there are SO MANY great games for cheap that I’m going to write a separate review entirely for them that I will post on Tuesday.
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Check back then!
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(I found this while looking up Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.  http://www.amazon.com/Pumpkinhead-Ashes-Blood-Double-Feature/dp/B0007KOISS/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1261256029&sr=1-12)  I’ll file this under W, for “WTF?”