Throwback Thursday – Styx, “The Best Of Times”; “Too Much Time On My Hands”

I could not decide on which Styx song from their 1981 album Paradise Theatre I should write about, and then it hit me:

why-not-both

styx-paradise-theatreSo here I am, writing about two throwback songs, on a Friday no less! Guys, being a homeschooled high school student does not give you much breathing room for writing about music. Regardless, let’s talk about each of these songs:

“The Best Of Times” – My favorite of the two, and also one of my favorite Styx songs in general, is “The Best Of Times”. It was always like Elton John singing after getting kicked in the balls. The vocals were high but not irrationally so, and the pacing leads perfectly into the instrumental at the bridge. The whole song is a great listen and one of the best songs by Styx.

9.75/10

“Too Much Time On My Hands” – While “The Best Of Times” may be the better (and more popular) of the two, something about “Too Much Time On Your Hands” just does not get old when listening to it. The intro is intriguing, the lyrics are relateable and interesting, and the tune is so easy to enjoy. Of the two, this seems to get more play time, mostly because of how good the chorus. However, it does have a bit of repetition to it that should get old to others after a while, but somehow does not for me.

9.25/10

Hope you enjoyed, Styx have some great songs but Paradise Theatre definitely includes some of their finest works. Afterall, who didn’t love them in the ’80’s?

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Music Recommendation – Multiple – Fall Out Boy, “Irresistible”; “Jet Pack Blues”; “Novacaine”; “The Kids Aren’t Alright”

fall-out-boy-2015I am going to be honest: I have never been a big fan of Fall Out Boy. I felt I gave their music a fighting chance for a while, and they just continually disappointed me. I could not see any appeal whatsoever. Writing for the website that I do, I run into Rock music quite a bit. Therefore, I write about Fall Out Boy about as often as Miley Cyrus posts a new picture of her nipple from a different angle: At least once a week, depending on how slow of a newsweek it is.

Wanting to branch out and listen to something different, I gave Fall Out Boy’s recent singles a chance. “Centuries” hardly did the trick, but “Irresistible” was worth noting. Then, just yesterday, the group released two new singles: “Novacaine” and, my new favorite song, “Jet Pack Blues”. So let’s break down my three favorite Fall Out Boy songs out there since some of their much earlier works below:

1. “Irresistible” – The epic brass intro leads into an immediately big first verse. This worried me that the chorus would explode to the point of being annoying, but the drop on the hook and build-up in the chorus makes for perfect pacing. I definitely felt after hearing this song that Fall Out Boy was moving in the right direction. Patrick Stump’s voice cracks a bit and sounds like it was pitched by my grandma, but Stump does manage to keep a quick speed in his lyrics and hardly gets a chance to breathe it seems. Production has a huge role in making “Irresistible” enjoyable and the final result is a good song.

8.75/10

2. “Jet Pack Blues” – Meet my new favorite song. The first stanza is the perfect speed lyrically, and has some great quotable lines. The chorus explodes into a big and easy-to-pick-up few seconds until it goes into the next short verse. The song is simple when it needs to be but has a complexity to its subject and tone. The bridge has a retro-guitar feel to it for a brief shining moment, but then gets just a bit too repetitive for me. Regardless, it became my favorite song and is some of the best I have ever heard by Fall Out Boy.

9.75/10

3. “Novacaine” – “Novacaine” does not compare very much to the first two in appeal, but it is a perfect loud Rock track. It gets chanty (which I can’t say I love), it relies heavily on guitar and bass, and is defiant like the teenagers listening to Fall Out Boy. The hook is intriguing and leads into a hair-flipping guitarplayer-pretending chorus. The bridge bothers me quite a bit because of the chanting and backup, but does not last longer than it needs to. “Novacaine” might not be the best song on the album, but it has a fun quality to it that is great for getting pumped up or just blasting some loud Rock in your earholes.

7/10

4. “The Kids Aren’t Alright” – I do not know what happened to the kids to make them not alright, but last time I checked Kesha had otherwise to say. While this one may not be as good as the first two, I do like the vocal pacing and the hook leading into the chorus. While this song is a bit more low-key (at least for Fall Out Boy), it still retains an entertaining nature to it. The whistling after the chorus probably bothers me the most, and the feeling of “ugh, get on with it” in the first verse. The second verse is paced much better, however. This is another solid FOB song that features some serious lyricism.

8/10

So there they are, my favorites on Fall Out Boy’s upcoming album American Beauty/America Psycho. It comes out on January 20, and I have all of this memorized I have to type it out a lot. But hey, at least I am stuck with a good band to write about. I hope that Fall Out Boy continues in this direction and make music that stays modern while indulging in the juicy sound that the group previously had in the mid-late 2000’s.

So which was your favorite song in my recommendations above?

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Billboard Hot 100 Favorites #1

billboard

In honor of hitting 5,000 views today, I decided to do something special. Just because I write about less-than-mainstream music sometimes does not mean I have no ounce of soul. AKA I do not consider myself a hipster. If you do, go ahead, but I thought I would share my favorite mainstream music picks. So let’s jump right into this, I’ll even give quick ratings!

Disclosure: I will not write about songs that I have already given “Hear It First” articles. These songs and their positions are as of the week of January 17, 2015 on the America (‘Murica!) chart. You can read about each song below the jump:

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Music Recommendation – Multiple – Mat Kearney, “One Black Sheep”; “Just Kids”

mat-kearneyMat Kearney has been bringing on new singles and I felt like both deserved mentioning. I don’t think I could make a snarky sarcastic crack on this guy, as he always seems like such a cool and nice dude. His music feels genuine and has an energy to it that makes it some of the last good stuff left in Soft-Rock.

Both songs are soley done by Kearney and neither has a feature. So let’s go through each of these songs and break them down:

1. One Black Sheep – The motivating One Black Sheep deals with being different and handling it. Again, I love Mat Kearney’s song lyrics and the tone in which he presents it is superb. While I have to say I like the “oomm-bada-ba-dae” part, I can see others not enjoying it. The song is a bit more Pop-y and is similar to how Ships In The Night sounded. Overall, I would rate it at:

9/10

2. Just Kids – Just Kids is a bit longer and is focused more on love than One Black Sheep was. The song slows down a bit and features an estimated 43% more piano. I also liked the Wu-Tang Clan reference. The vocals are a bit raw on this song compared to his other music, but the distorted vocals on the chorus are definitely worth the wait. I like listening to One Black Sheep better, but I do appreciate the lyricism and sound of Just Kids and how each is different but manage to be good songs. Overall, I would rate this one at:

8.5/10

So these two average out to 8.75/10. Both songs are relatively recent releases, so you can enjoy hearing them early as well. I recommend listening to both, so go ahead and check them out below:

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Music Recommendation – Multiple – twenty one pilots, “Ode To Sleep”; “Screen”; “Trees”

twenty-one-pilotsI have a close friend going through a tough break-up, and between her love for twenty one pilots, my love for twenty one pilots, and the incredibly complex and interesting sound that is twenty one pilots, I felt as though this would be a good day to cite my three favorite songs by 21P, as I refer them. I understand when people find it hard to enjoy twenty one pilots’ music and sound, but something about its nature and how unique its sound is makes these songs notable.

So let’s go through each of these songs and break them down:

1. “Ode To Sleep” – This was one of my first 21P songs, and when it began, I expected something Metal-based. The instrumental begins so superbly, but the introducing verse is a bit disappointing. The Hip-Hop-like sound of the beginning slows it down a bit, then at about the one-minute mark, everything picks up until at 1:20 the whole song comes together into what it should be. The chorus is complex and long but just feels perfect. The second stanza is more like the first, but capitalizes on the pace set from the previous hook. After a minute, the song comes together and stands out as unique and intriguing.

9/10

2. “Screen” – While Ode To Sleep is my favorite by twenty one pilots, Screen is a close second and takes the mistakes of Ode To Sleep and crushes them like a walnut under the shoe of a misfit teenager trying to get aggression out. The instrumental progresses throughout the song to become bigger and louder and the vocals have their signature tune but appear at a higher key. Hell, even the verse and its flow are great, despite what the performer says. While I believe this song is better, it is not as entertaining and bizarre as Ode To Sleep. Regardless, it will get a higher rating for its design and style while fixing Ode To Sleep‘s errors. Only disappointing part is the bridge and its repetitive lyrics, though it is not necessarily bad.

9.5/10

“Trees” – Trees has a bit more of a tone of morality and love, and feels genuine. The instrumentals and production continue to impress, and it picks up quickly by transitioning into a bit more of a Pop-y feel. The song is similar to Screen while having a sense of easier lyrics to pick up and retaining its own uniqueness. Of any twenty one pilots song, this feels the easiest to show a friend without worrying about them being offended by showing them a song so outlandish and unlike much modern music. Solid song with mostly-decent execution, style and form, though the whole work cannot seem to commit to a particular sound.

8.25/10

So that averages out to about 8.75/10, though that hardly matters. That there is just a general artist rating, mainly due to the complexity and varying sound of twenty one pilots’ music that is worth noting. It is a bit difficult to enjoy many songs by 21P for each’s uniqueness and individuality, and their vocals are hardly natural often. It seems just as many listeners find the music disappointing to listen to as those who find it pleasurable.

Regardless, check out the songs listed and reviewed above and find some more if you like those.

-Austin Heath

P.S. I hope you are doing better Louise, keep your chin up and enjoy some 21P for me.

Music Recommendation – Multiple – Ne-Yo, Coming With You; Religious

ne-yoGuys, besides the facts that the sky is blue, water is wet and obvious facts are obvious, I like Ne-Yo’s music. I like both of these songs enough to write nice lengthy articles on each, but instead I will just briefly break them down below so you can hear them sooner. This is a first with a multiple recommendation, though it is only because of their same-day release. So let’s look at each:

1. Come With You – Of the two singles, this is definitely the more “Pop-y” song. Between the trumpets, upbeat tempo, and EDM-like beat, the song could appeal to plenty of different listeners. I do enjoy the song, but it feels so forced in its creation as simply to be liked, that it is hard to truly appreciate it. That being said, the song ends on a great note and blends RnB and Pop nicely without being too overbearing of one or the other. So I would rate this one at:

8.75/10

2. Religious – Song numero dos is way more Soul-influenced, which is refreshing. I do enjoy Religious better than its predecessor, but that is only because I find this particular genre more interesting than Pop. The mellow love song hardly makes sense, but in a gentlemanly sort of way, Ne-Yo is saying he wants to worship dat ass. The hook is rather repetitive, but the stanzas and the harmonies and horns that correspond with them are pieced together to perfection. So I would rate this one at:

9/10

That averages out to a bit below 9/10 for both of them, but obviously that hardly matters. These two new releases are great adds to the preview of Non-Fiction, whose tracklisting and cover art have already been revealed (check out that article on ThisIsRnB.com here). My biggest fear is that the album’s general direction will be more Pop than RnB/Soul, but only time will tell. There are a few Hip-Hop options in there, and I was quite impressed with She Knows, so anything could happen. I mean, it’s Ne-Yo, it will probably impress me anyways.

So go ahead and stream both new songs below:

-Austin Heath

Hear It First – Charli XCX, Caught In The Middle; Die Tonight; Famous

charli-xcxCharli XCX’s upcoming album Sucker has been revealed bit by bit before its release next week. Of course I wrote about Gold Coins here, and now listeners can hear more before the LP’s release. Stereogum.com made me aware that the songs Caught In The MiddleDie Tonight, and Famous have all been revealed. You can go to the article linked below and hear them first:

http://www.stereogum.com/1723449/charli-xcx-caught-in-the-middle-die-tonight-famous/mp3s/

-Austin Heath

Hear It First – Lana Del Rey, Big Eyes; I Can Fly

lana-del-reyPeople have this weird love affair with Lana Del Rey’s music, though the fanbase mostly consists of hipster teenage girls. I find Lana’s music intriguing, though I doubt I would ever add one of her songs to my own playlist of music. The appeal has never seemed broad enough for the amount of fame she has received, but whatever she does has been working.

Hence the reason her new songs for Tim Burton’s upcoming movie Big Eyes have a similar sound to her album Ultraviolence. The title track is expected to do big things at the Oscars, while I Can Fly is just kinda there.

Both are decent tracks for any Lana Del Rey fan, especially Big Eyes. And while I may not find her music as exciting to my own tastes, I feel both songs are good listens and deserve such.

You can hear both first by following the link to Stereogum.com below:

http://www.stereogum.com/1722517/lana-del-rey-big-eyes-i-can-fly/mp3s/

-Austin Heath

Throwback Thursday – Eagles

Eagles_greatest_vol_2Wow, I sure did love The Eagles. Then again, who didn’t? Their music has been ageless, particularly their hit Hotel California. Of course I love that track, but I thought I would rank my top 3 by this group.

Normally I do not set up a Throwback Thursday post with more than one song, but I could not decide which of my favorite three by this Rock group to write about. I decided on posting all three in order of favorites and why, similar to an album review. So let’s break them down track-by-track:

3. I Can’t Tell You Why – This was my first Eagles song, at least that I remember. I have my mother to thank for this one, and it has always been one of those songs I love to hear sometimes for no reason. Always an excellent soft-rock hit. 9.25/10

2. Hotel California – Yes, chock me up in the unoriginal fans of Hotel California, which is an incredible song, might I add. Great lyricism, fast pace and features a healthy balance of sound. But of course you probably knew that, for it is still a classic. 9.75/10

1. New Kid In Town – I consider this the best Eagles song, but that may be due to some bias. I felt a lot of emotional connection to this song a few years back, and it has always stood out for helping me through emotional turmoil. The song is absolutely my favorite and definitely perfection of soft-rock. 10/10

I cannot really average out the sound of this group, but I can recommend a trip back down Memory Lane by hearing some of their old hits. This band is a staple in musical history and has always been one of my favorite Rock groups.

You can check out the songs I listed below:

-Austin Heath

Hear It First – Beyoncé, 7/11; Ring Off

box-setBeyoncé is releasing a box set with a couple of new songs, among them being 7/11 and Ring Off. I have only heard snippets of each, but wanted to share them with listeners anyways. 7/11 has a more Hip-Hop tone to it, while Ring Off gives us the smooth RnB that I enjoy most.

You can check out both over at ThisIsRnB.com:

http://www.thisisrnb.com/2014/11/new-music-beyonce-711-ring-off/

-Austin Heath