Sunday, December 28, 2014

My Top Albums of 2014


PCarlson FlushingAve WIlliamsburg 2014

What a year of music! Between some awesome concerts and surprise music releases, 2014 proved to be the year of comeback tours and promising new faces in music. Here are my favorite new albums of 2014.



Robert Plant and the Senstational Spaceshifters - Lullaby ... and the Ceaseless Roar. Plant's tenth, and possibly, best solo album was released on September 8th to wide praise. The album captures his successful journey away from Zeppelin and his embrace of deep American blues. Faves: Rainbow and Poor Howard.



U2 - Songs of Innocence. U2's thirteenth album and surprise release, this one was seemingly either loved or hated. As I listen to it more, it is slowly becoming one of my favorite U2 albums. It's a mixture of those sounds of innocence, the Boy days. But again Bono tackles tough issues such as controversial events in the Troubles, re-wrote song lyrics based on current events, and even addresses himself and where he has gone in life. Faves: Sleep Like a Baby Tonight and The Troubles.





Umphrey's McGee - Similar Skin. The eighth studio album form this Chicago super jam-tronic group is nothing short of the embodiment of jam-tronic music today. The constantly touring band, known for their face melting shows, hit the mark with this album. But do yourselves a favor, go see them live. These songs become an amalgam of old and new Umphrey's with their always welcomed cover built in. Faves: Puppet String, No Diablo, and Bridgeless.


First Aid Kit - Stay Gold. These Swedish folk sisters took the airwaves - and video waves by storm with the release of their hit, Silver Lining, their album (a tribute to Abba) Stay Gold began to climb in popularity. The album is rich with folk sounds and their golden, harmonious voices. Faves: Silver Lining and Stay Gold.
 

Vance Joy - Dream Your Life Away. The Aussies have again given us some great new talent. His catchy song Riptide, released before his album, helped the momentum of his popularity. The songs are simple and melodic - his videos are unique to say the least. Faves: Riptide and All I Ever Wanted


Hozier - Hozier. You remember when you first heard it. You thought it was Elton John or maybe even someone covering Sir Elton. But no, this uber talented Irish singer gave us one of the best songs of 2014. This was the best review of Hozier's debut that I found: Simon Harper of Clash magazine commented that
His voice, more poitín-sweetened than whiskey-soaked, caresses delicate melodies and rougher rhythms alike with confidence – it lingers compellingly in the creeping blues of 'To Be Alone', whispers prettily in the folky 'Like Real People Do', and preaches fervently in the ragged R&B of 'Jackie And Wilson'.
Faves: Take Me to Church and Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene. His video for Take Me to Church is just as important, openly tackling the issues of homophobia and the importance of love.
 
 

Nicole Atkins - Slow Phaser. Nicole created this masterpiece on her own Mercy Me record label - and it packs a large punch of sounds you might not have expected to hear from this Jersey girl.
Slow Phaser is a dark, desert disco rock album made during a year of wandering about in city alleys, broken shores and snowy Viking lands,” said Atkins. “I wanted to turn the lights up just enough to dance through the darkness. It's a welcomed new approach and I welcome more songs about her journeys.
Faves: Girl You Look Amazing and What Do You Know.



George Ezra - Wanted on Voyage. Upon first look, you don't expect to hear Ledbelly or even Johnny Cash come out of this charming British boy's lungs. But behold, George's voice is big and soulful. His freshman album is getting critical acclaim and they are already hungry for his second album. Faves: Budapest and Listen to the Man.



Paolo Nutini - Caustic Love. While Scot Paolo has been around awhile, it is his April release that has people talking. He is now my Scottish Otis Redding.  His third album is jazzy and soulful and flew up the UK and Irish charts. You can find him on constant rotation on XM's Sirius Spectrum. Faves: Let Me Down and One Day.


Ray LaMontagne - Supernova. I have often described Ray's voice as a full body massage for my soul. His fifth album is my favorite. It's a varied sound for this New Hampshire Native. Compare 2004's song Trouble to 2014's Supernova and you can see that he's trying to get out of his musical safe zone and what people expect. Songs like Lavender are brimming with 70's grooves and Airwaves reminds me of a Loggins and Messina B-Side.  Faves: Supernova and Drive in Movies.
 
 
Mary J Blige - The London Sessions. Another album leaked online, this reminds everyone of early 2000's Mary, with it's pure R&B grooves. It's simple, truthful, and a welcome back to some pure R&B sounds from Ms. Blige. Faves: Therapy and Nobody But You.


Buffo's Wake - Carniphobia. When they reached out to me and said, hey, can you take a listen to our album? I knew I started this blog for the right reasons. This Brighton Beach UK gypsy punk band is - unique. And I love them. Their debut album, Carniphobia, lives up to all expectation. This is how I described them in the blog: Imagine you are the central character in an Edgar Allan Poe story. Now, add some accordions, a carnival, a Gypsy Punk soundtrack, and have Tim Burton direct it all. Welcome to Buffo's Wake. Faves: Merrick and Sold to the Circus





I hope you've all had a great 2014 - and I cannot thank you all enough for the reads and feedback. Here is to your hopes, dreams, and a musical 2015!!!
 

 

 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Drowning Man




 Five seasons ago the world met Daryl Dixon. A character not in the comic series, The Walking Dead. While he auditioned for the role of Merle, Norman Reedus won over the writers and created Merle a brother named Daryl. In season one, we met an angry redneck who hated just about everything. We didn’t “know” Daryl. As the seasons progressed, we got to know Daryl just as Daryl was beginning to know himself.

Now, most of us figured he was just as much of a jerk as his racist brother. Why on earth would anyone be upset that an ass like Merle was missing? But when you think about it, that ass was all Daryl had. It was the only type of family he understood. Enter Rick Grimes.

 
Rick was patient with Daryl. Even when Daryl went off and pouted in a tent on the Greene Family Farm in Season two, Rick let Daryl be Daryl. As a sheriff in King County Georgia, I’m sure Rick ran across a lot of Daryl Dixons. But just like a beaten down dog, with respect comes respect.  As Daryl saw that law enforcement and people in general were not bad; that a nice gesture was not a trap; a mistake didn’t get you a beating, he began to join the group. Rick could be seen as the father figure to Daryl in the earlier seasons, but now they could be considered brothers.


When Andrea accidentally shot Daryl, around the same time millions of hearts were broken with the episode Cherokee Rose (Season 2, Episode 4), we see a once beaten down Carol try to thank Daryl for his kindness. A kiss that looked as painful as any switch Mr. Dixon used on them, Daryl looked so uncomfortably painful at any gesture of kindness,  probably because it seems that once Daryl has something nice, it’s taken away.
While Daryl’s father and brother were abusive, we only know that his mother died tragically in a fire set by her own cigarettes. We don’t know if she cared for Daryl, but we’re pretty sure she was beaten as well. We saw Daryl open up emotionally with Carol, holding her back when Sofia was lost.
 
We do know that Daryl does not like quitters. We see him comment negatively anytime they come across someone who gave up and committed suicide. This brings us to Daryl’s relationship with Beth Greene. Beth was a weakling when he met her. She was looking for that easy way out when all hell was beginning to break lost on the farm. A 180 from Daryl Beth was sheltered and the world was too harsh, sad, and hard for her.  But like Daryl, Beth had to change to survive. The prison was her training. When it was just Beth and Daryl after the prison falls (Season 5, Episode 4, Still), Beth knows she won’t get a sympathetic ear from Daryl. She even says to him I know you look at me and see another dead girl.  But Beth fought and even got Daryl to talk a little - get a little angry. He opened up to Beth and that forged a bond that he's never probably had.
But why do we love Daryl Dixon? It is our empathy and sympathy for those tragic characters. Think back about how you felt about John bender (Judd Nelson) in The Breakfast Club.

Maybe it’s the desire to find something good in someone bad. The tragic character’s flaws are usually caused by some awful experience and deep down inside there is a gifted, caring individual that can be freed from the bonds of their past abuse.
This is why we love Daryl Dixon. We’ve seen him suffer, watched him heal, but damn, Sofia and Beth make us feel even more  sorry for this guy to seem to take two steps forward and is pushed ten steps back.
When Norman Reedus posted the instagram of the U2 song, Drowning Man, I knew someone was going to die. The lyrics, just by reading them could bring a person to tears. But the background of the song makes Norman’s choice even more beautifully poetic. When War was recorded, U2 was at a cross roads – The Edge, Larry, and Bono were all very religious, Adam Clayton, not so much. The reference to a drowning man is Adam’s faith and Bono and the boys trying to save him. Is Dayl Dixon at his crossroads, drowning in the question of why he allows himself to care so deeply for anyone.  
 
Drowning Man
Take my hand
You know I'll be there
If you can
I'll cross the sky for your love
For I have promised
Oh, to be with you tonight
And for the time that will come

Take my hand
You know I'll be there
If you can
I'll cross the sky for your love
And I understand
These winds and tides
This change of times
Won't drag you away
Hold on, and hold on tightly
Hold on, and don't let go
Of my love

The storms will pass (the storm will pass)
It won't be long now (it won't be long now)
His love will last
His love will last...forever

Take my hand
You know I'll be there
If you can
I'll cross the sky for your love
Give you what I hold dear

Hold on, hold on tightly
Hold on, hold on tightly
Rise up, rise up
With wings like eagles
You run, you run
You run and not grow weary

(take my hand, take my hand)
Hold on, and hold on tightly
Hold on, hold on tightly
To this love...last forever
To this love...last forever

Take my hand