Thursday, June 19, 2014

U Gotta See This!

Trying to get back in the groove of writing, here come the U's! The U's were short and sweet, featuring only three hours of music, fifty four songs, and ten artists. If you've read any other posts in this blog you know that this means that this blog post will be short and sweet. The U's weren't particularly great for me, there were a lot of artists who I kind of like but not really one that I'm a big on. The U's were easy to get through, I listened to most of them while cleaning my apartment. With that brief introduction over, lets hop into the U's.

First up are worldwide Superstars U2. U2 are an Irish rock band based out of Dublin. The band came together in 1976 when four high school classmates formed a band, the four barely knew how to play their instruments, but within four years had become proficient enough to be signed to Major label Island Records. Their 1980 debut Boy made the group an International act, allowing the band to tour the world. For most of their first decade they were more successful as a live act than as an album selling artist. Their breakthrough came with the release of 1987's Achtung Baby. The album was hailed as a revelation and launched the band into international superstardom. The band spent the 90's experimenting with different musical styles, incorporating industrial, dance, and alternative rock. The band's fame faded a bit as they experimented, but the flame was reignited at the beginning of the 00's. The band focused more on the alternative rock side of their musical experimentation, going for big arena rock hooks and catchy choruses. The band is currently one of the biggest rock bands in the world with the names Bono and The Edge well known around the rock world. The band has employed various styles in their sound over the years, but the sound they've become known for is their Arena Rock. Their songs feature big hooks and catchy lyrics that are easy to sing along to. The band's lyrics are often spiritual and socially conscious. The band is well known for their philanthropic work, especially that of lead singer Bono. I first heard of U2 in the 90's, I would hear a song here and there on Rock radio. The band really came to the forefront of my recognition scale in the 2000's when their popularity soared again. I find U2 enjoyable, but I don't consider them much more than that. I'm not a huge fan of the big hook Arena Rock style. I don't mind listening to U2 casually, but I can't ever see myself getting deeper than that.

Following U2 is a song from Uffie. Uffie is an electronic musician based in Paris, France. Uffie was born in Miami but raised in Hong Kong for her early childhood. She came back to Miami when she was 15, but was arrested for vandalism and sent to Paris to live with her father. After a few years in Paris she met DJ Feadz and began a relationship with him, he convinced her to provide vocals on one of his tracks in 2005 and she began developing an interest in making music. Later in 2005 she wrote and recorded the song "Pop The Glock." She posted the song to MySpace and was noticed by an indie label, who released the song as a single. The song "Ready To Uff" (featured on this playlist) was featured as the B-Side. Uffie has gained recognition in the French Electronic DJ scene and is often cited as a muse for many DJ's. She even got nominated onto many best of the year lists in 2005. The music featured here is a start stop beat mixed with world music elements and featuring Uffie rapping. The rapping tends to break up with repeated loops of certain words. I first heard of Uffie when my older brother put this song on the Mp3 CD he gave me. I enjoyed the song, it's a fun song. It's not something I'll listen to often or explore much further but it's fun.

Next up is a song from the band UIC. UIC were a Canadian Garage Rock band from Exeter, Ontario who came together in 1982. The band started when two brothers who had been playing together for a few years formed a band with two friends. The group drew its influence from bands they heard on FM radio from Detroit. They realized that they could play just as well as bands like The Ramones, so that's the style of music they began playing. The band played around Canada and released five albums before breaking up in 1995. The band was featured on several compilations featuring Canadian punk artists, but were never really known outside of Canada. The band's music is simple straight forward garage rock, simple bar and power chords. There's definitely some Stooges influence in the music as well. I first heard UIC around 2005 when my brother gave me the previously mentioned Mp3 CD. I didn't remember this song before hearing it again for this blog, and I'm not particularly surprised. It's not particularly distinctive, it's just your typical garage rock song. This isn't particularly memorable, and I will not be exploring further.

After UIC is a song from the band U.K. Subs. The U.K. Subs are a British Punk Rock band who began performing in 1976. The band was part of the initial British Punk Rock movement that included bands like The Sex Pistols. The band gained popularity as Punk began to gain popularity in England. The band scored a few Top 40 hits, including the song featured here "Stranglehold." The band's sound shifted in the 1980's when the line up was shuffled. The band began to play a heavier sound closer to Metal. The band has released twenty four albums to date, each subsequent album is named alphabetically. I first heard of the U.K. Subs back around 2005 when I first started exploring punk rock. They were mentioned frequently in discussions about punk. Then my older brother gave me this song on the Mp3 he made for me. I do recall this song from my first several listens, I was getting into punk at the time and this was a good song. I still like this song, it's a great example of early English Punk. The attitude, the edge, and the simplicity of the movement. I might look further into this band.

Coming after U.K. Subs are two songs from Ultravox. Ultravox were a British Punk/New Wave band who came together as Ultravox in 1976. The band went through several name changes before settling on Ultravox in 1976, just a few months before their debut album was released on Island Records the same year. The group started out as a punk rock group, but quickly began moving towards their New Wave sound. Their third album was the first to feature heavy New Wave sounds, but failed to chart. The band failed to achieve any success with their first three albums, and were dropped by Island records in 1978. The band self financed a US tour in 1979, but the tour was a disaster and resulted in the band breaking up, and lead singer John Foxx left to pursue a solo career. The band would reform the next year with a new lead singer in Midge Ure, Ure would also take over the role of guitarist and keyboards. With Ure at the helm the band released their 1980 album Vienna (who's title track is one of the two featured songs), the album featured a very Synth heavy glam rock style, the album eventually went to number two on the U.K. charts and featured several charting singles. The band achieved a string of successful albums before starting to decline in 1987. The next year the band broke up and members went on to new projects. The two songs featured here "Vienna" and "Saturday Night In The City Of The Dead," are very different in styles. Vienna is very dramatic/theatrical with heavy synth and programmed drum beats. "Saturday Night In The City Of The Dead" is much more punk sounding, and was released on their 1976 debut. I like both songs, but I find "Vienna" more interesting. "Vienna" is very theatrical and I think that's what I like best about it. "Saturday Night In The City Of The Dead" is a good 70's punk song, and pretty catchy too. Ultravox is an interesting group that I wouldn't mind hearing more of, but it would probably be the lineup featuring Midge Ure.

Uncle Tupelo is up next on the playlist. Uncle Tupelo were an Alternative Country band that was active between 1987 and 1994. The band played a brand of Alternative rock with a country twang mixed in. Uncle Tupelo formed in Bellville, Illinois in 1987 by founding members Jay Farrar, Jeff Tweedy, and Mike Heidorn. The band quickly distanced themselves from the traditional Country music scene, drawing influences from punk bands like The Minutemen as well as traditional Country artists like Hank Williams. The group started while all the members were in High School, going through two iterations before the three formed Uncle Tupelo in 1987. The band played locally for three years before signing to an independent record contract, releasing their debut album in 1990. The band gained attention after a Rolling Stone article chronicled them as artists to watch, and their 1992 sophomore effort gained them their major label contract. The album was more heavily country at a time when the Alternative Music scene was taking off, this was done as an intentional middle finger to the movement. The band released their major label debut Anodyne in 1994. The major label contract saw the group expanding to a five person group, and Jeff Tweedy taking more of the songwriting and singing duties away from Jay Farrar. Farrar wasn't happy with Tweedy taking over and the two began to fight constantly, and it eventually led the band breaking up right as Anodyne  was released. The band did a farewell tour as a favor to their manager and then called it quits. Jeff Tweedy immeaditely formed the band Wilco with the other members of Uncle Tupelo and Farrar formed the band Son Volt. The album featured on this album is the Major Label debut Anodyne, which was given to me by my brother Charlie. I hadn't listened to the band before he gave me the album, and wasn't at all familiar with the band. I knew Jeff Tweedy's band Wilco, but not his work before that. I didn't listen to the album much before listening to it for this post, it's a little outside my usual taste. I enjoy country music occasionally, it's just not my main genre of listening. I enjoy a lot of older country music, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, ect., and there is a lot of country influence in this music. It just didn't strike a chord with me in either direction on the hate/love scale. It's enjoyable enough, but nothing particularly special for me. If I was in a country mood this wouldn't be a bad edition to the playlist, but it wouldn't be at the top of my list. I much more enjoy Tweedy's work in Wilco.

Uncle Tupelo "Chickamauga"

Next up is The Undertones, an Irish Pop Punk/ New Wave band. The group formed by High School friends in 1975 started as a cover band, playing covers of their favorite bands like The Beatles. When the Punk Rock movement exploded in 1976 the band began to incorporate influences from bands like The Buzzcocks and The Adverts. The group frequently played a local club for the next few years, interspersing original material with their usual covers. The band developed it's sound into a Poppy version of the three chord style used in punk rock. In 1978 they released their debut EP Teenage Kicks, the EP got radio play and got the band signed to Sire Records. The band released their debut album, and toured the UK. As the band went on they continued to evolve their sound, and by the time they broke up in 1983 they were incorporating Motown influences into their Pop Punk.  The band broke up in 1983 from a mixture of internal tensions and increased pressure from their record label. I've been vaguely aware of The Undertones since I started getting into punk rock back around 2003-2004. The band is a favorite with a lot of Old School Punk fans. The song I'm most familiar with is the debut single "Teenage Kicks." It's a song I've heard quite a bit of over the years, and one I enjoy quite a bit. It's a fun up-tempo pop punk song about adolescence, and relationships. I haven't looked up much more of The Undertones' back catalogue, but I wouldn't mind getting deeper into it.
A one and done from the Boston band The Unseen. The Unseen are a Boston Pop Punk band formed in 1993, the band was formed as an attempt to revive the Street Punk style that had become popular in the UK in the 80's. The band played loud and fast with a political message, a message prevalent in their first releases but softened upon the departure of founding member Paul Russo. The band has been shunned by the more hardcore punk fans for shooting videos and making songs that could play on music television. The band is still active, and the article I read on them doesn't say much more. The song comes from the Rock Against Bush: Vol. 2, and it's your typical pop punk song. It's got a bit of a hardcore edge to it, but it's your standard pop punk sound found from bands that frequent the Vans Warped Tour. It's not a bad song, but it's not special either.

As we near the end of the U's, The Used come next. The Used are an Alternative Rock band from Utah commonly associated with the "emo" movement of the early 2000's. The band formed around its instrumentally inclined members in 2001, adding lead singer Bert McCracken after failing to find a viable lead singer during an audition process. McCracken wrote lyrics for the music the other members had already written, and the band recorded a demo. The demo minimal attention, but eventually got them signed to Reprise Records. The band released their self titled debut the next year, to critical acclaim. The album eventually went Gold. The band released the2004 follow up album In Love and Death, the album also went Gold. The band continues to record and tour, releasing four more albums to date. The band's lyrics tended to focus on death, loss, and relationships. I enjoyed The Used when they first came out, when I was fourteen. They appealed to the angsty teenager in me. Thirteen years later I don't enjoy them like I did back then. I still enjoy their debut album more than their second album, which is part of the reason I stopped paying attention to them. Their debut is a lot more consistent in its sound and quality. Their second album feels all over the place, like they couldn't decide what sound they wanted to put forward. McCracken's voice on the slower "emotional" songs reminds me a lot of Jimmy Eat World, but their louder songs clash with that vibe. I don't see myself listening to The Used with any type of frequency, I just don't enjoy them the way I did fourteen years ago.

The Used "The Taste of Ink"

Finally we have Useless ID, the first band on this list from Israel. The band formed in 1994 and eventually gained enough popularity in Israel to fund a tour in the USA in 1996. The band returned from their successful tour and replaced their founding bassist with new member Yotam Ben-Horin. In 1999 they gained some moderate international success after being invited to be a part of a split album with popular band The Ataris. The album got them signed to Kung Fu Records in 2001, and Ben-Horin took over vocals. The band would then appear on several compilation CD's for Fat Wreck Chords, including Rock Against Bush: Vol. 2, which is where the song on this playlist comes from. I wasn't at all aware of this band before hearing this song on the compilation. This song isn't particularly memorable, it's your standard Fat Wreck style, melodic choruses and fast simple chord progressions. It's nothing special.
That's it, after two years the U's are finally finished. I'm not sure why it took me two years, lack of motivation to write the sprawling long winded posts I suppose. I'm not happy that I never finished this project, so I'm trying to rectify that. I want to finish all the letters and then add to the letters already reviewed with any bands that have been added since they were written.  

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cross Your I's and Dot Your T's

Here it is, the long awaited (let's pretend for a minute) return of Alphabetical Music! After an eight month hiatus, I've decided to revive the dead thing that is my blog. As explained in the introduction for the S's I had shoulder surgery at the end of August. After staying with my parents for a few weeks it was back to Louisville to began job hunting, since I could no longer physically perform my duties at my old job. I found a job as a Barista at the beginning of October and began working full time, with my days starting at 3:45 in the morning and ending sometime between noon and one. With this early morning schedule I just didn't have the energy or the desire to write, I had long ago finished listening to the T's but lacked the motivation to write the post. Six months later, I'm still working at 3:45am but I've become a bit more accustom to it (I even got a promotion). That being said a few weeks ago I started feeling the urge to write again and I began listening to the T's all over again in an effort to began doing so. So here's my attempt at getting back into this thing and getting it finished. The T's were fun to listen to, with lots of great bands, songs and albums. The T's dragged a bit in the middle but were good overall. This post isn't going to be nearly as long as the S's, the T's feature 44 artists (27 fewer than S for those wondering). Please bear with me if my writing is not up to par with what it used to be, it's been a while.

T.Rex are the first band to grace this playlist. T. Rex were a British Folk Rock band that formed in the late 60's as a folk group. The group found minor success as Tyrannosaurus Rex singing acoustic folk songs. A few years later at the beginning of the 70's the group shortened its name to T. Rex and started playing electric instruments. With the introduction of electric instrumentation came higher production values and a shift towards Glam Rock. The group enjoyed increasing success with each new album, gaining their greatest success with the international hit "Get It On" (song is also known as "Bang a Gong (Get It On)"). With success came temptation and tension. After finding success with their first two albums as T.Rex band members became increasingly frustrated with lead sing Marc Bolan who began displaying egotistical behaviors, behaviors brought on by the influx of money and his increasing use of cocaine. The group began to splinter and T.Rex's musical style began to vary widely. Where they had been groove based Glam Rock similar to early David Bowie, by the end of their career they had moved in more of a direction similar to Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound" style. The band came to a tragic end in 1977 when Bolan and his girlfriend died in a drunk driving accident, the two had been drinking and she lost control of the car and crashed into a tree killing Bolan and severely injuring herself. I first heard T.Rex the same way many Americans did, through their song "Get It On." The song is often cited as a Classic 70's rock song, and is still popular on Classic Rock radio stations. I enjoyed "Get It On," it's a really fun song, but I never really considered exploring further until I was given the album Electric Warrior. After listening to this album I became a bigger fan of T.Rex, and realized that they actually had a lot of songs that were better than "Get It On." Listening to this album again for this blog made me remember how great it was, I hadn't listened to it in a while and was happy to do so again. I really enjoy their mellow sound infused with a little bit of Groove, and little bit of Folk, and rock. Bolan's mellow voice works perfectly with the musical style. I would not be opposed to exploring further into T.Rex's Discography.

T. Rex "Cosmic Dancer"

Another full album contributing artist is up next in The Talking Heads. The Talking Heads were a New Wave Rock band formed in New York City. The band got its start in 1975 when three classmates moved to New York City. Lead singer David Byrne and Drummer Chris Frantz had formed a band together during college but the group quickly broke up and the two moved to New York City with Frantz's girlfriend Tina Weymouth who they eventually convinced to learn to play bass. The group debuted in 1975 playing the famous CBGB's and opening for The Ramones. The band began to gain a following and were eventually signed to Sire Records. The group gained minor success with the release of their first album in 1977 and its single "Psycho Killer," but really gained success after a Saturday Night Live performance of their cover of Al Green's "Take Me To The River." The song was featured on their second album, an album that marked the beginning of the group's collaboration with Star producer Brian Eno. Eno pushed the group to move in new directions, and help expand their sound. The group began exploring new musical directions with each new album, mixing in influences that ranged from Punk Rock to Afrobeat. The band gained its greatest commercial success in America in 1983 with the song "Burning Down The House," the group's first Top 10 hit. The band released three more albums before going on hiatus in 1988 and officially breaking up in 1991. The group has been almost universally praised by music critics, and has been named to several Top Bands lists, and three of their albums made Rolling Stone's "The Five Hundred Greatest Albums of All Time." The bands New Wave style became an influence for the revival of New Wave that became popular at the beginning of the twenty first century. I became a fan of The Talking Heads through my parents, who were fans. I grew up hearing songs like "Psycho Killer," "Burning Down The House," and "Once In A Lifetime" on my Dad's car stereo as I was driven to school. I've always enjoyed those most well known of the Talking Heads' songs but as I grew older and added full albums to my iTunes I began to appreciate them even more. I see the wonderful mixing of different musical elements and the stylistic influence they had on bands like The Rapture. I can't see myself not enjoying The Talking Heads, and the fact that my family shares a small personal connection with one of the band members makes it even cooler. If you enjoy The Rapture and similar bands, I recommend listening to the Talking Heads in depth to see how heavily The Rapture were influenced by this band's sound.

Talking Heads "Burning Down The House"

Next up are the local Louisville boys who made it big, Tantric. Tantric formed in 1998 after the band Days of the New and their lead singer parted ways. The singer continued on as Days of the New and the remaining musicians recruited lead singer Hugo Ferreria and became Tantric. The band's 2000 demo gained attention through the help of friends in Louisville radio. This attention led to the band being singed to Maverick Records, who released the group's self titled debut in 2001. The album debuted in the Billboard 200 and eventually went Platinum on the strength of the single "Breakdown." The band failed to gain the same success when their follow up was released in 2004. The album featured a "heavier" sound that was not well received. The band began shedding members not long after, in 2005 the band's original bass player left and was replaced by Bruce LaFrance (previously mentioned as part of Nova Red). By the time the group released its fourth album in 2009 Hugo Ferreria was the only original member. The group's sound was very much in the popular style of the early 2000's, featuring a mix of Post-Grunge and Nu Metal. The group was compared to groups like Creed, and was partly criticized for how close their sound sometimes mirrored Alice in Chains. I first heard of Tantric back in 2001 with the release of their self titled debut. I heard "Breakdown" on the radio and liked it, so I purchased the album. I enjoyed the album back then, but was never huge on it. These days, I'm not a fan at all. The songs all sound like your typical late 90's early 00's rock and roll, and while the vocal layering and mixing in of acoustic guitar are nice touches, they don't make up for the rest of the music. As I got older I became less and less a fan of this sound, and I think this group may have been the start of this change, so Thank You Tantric for that.

Tantric "Breakdown"

Following Tantric we have Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. The group was started in 1999 by front man Ted Leo, a veteran of the indie music scene, as a solo project after breaking up with the band Chisel. Ted Leo released the debut album in 1999 and turned it into a fully fledged band the next year. The group signed to Lookout! Records in 2001 and released their first album as a group. The band began experiencing a flux in membership around the same time, with Ted Leo remaining the only constant. Behind constant touring the group began gaining some success. In 2004 the band released their most popular album to date Shake The Sheets, which saw the beginning of Ted Leo writing lyrics dealing with social and political topics. The band continued to tour constantly, playing festivals like Coachella, gaining further success. The group still hasn't gained widespread success, but has a sizeable following in the Indie Rock community. I first heard of Ted Leo and the Pharmacists from my older brother who gave me a copy of Shake The Sheets. I wasn't huge on the record the first go around, but as I listened to it again a year or two later I became a bigger fan. I really enjoy Leo's earnest singing style, when he sings it sounds like he has something really important to tell you. The mixing of Indie rock with some punk and reggae influences makes for a great platform for his distinctive vocal style. I recommend Ted Leo to fans of classic rock artists like Elvis Costello, because to me Ted Leo has a very similar sound and feeling.

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists "Me and Mia"

After two albums from Ted Leo comes a one and done artist in Teenage Head. Teenage Head were a Canadian Punk band from Hamilton, Ontario who formed in 1975. The band started as a group of High School friends playing together, but eventually got noticed by Epic Records in 1978 and released their self titled debut that same year. The band got its big break in 1980 with the release of their second album Frantic City, an album that saw their popularity/notoriety in Canada grow. The band went on to release two more very popular albums before parting ways with lead singer Frankie Venom in 1985, Venom would rejoin the band three years later but the band never achieved the same level of success. I wasn't terribly familiar with Teenage Head before listening to this song, "Picture My Face," for the blog. I had heard the name before and had listened to the song once or twice after being given the track by my older brother. I enjoy this style of rock and roll, it's got a fun swagger to it and a very punk attitude. I enjoy the fuzzed out guitars playing the simple 3 chord progressions common in all punk rock, and Frankie Venom's voice isn't mean or menacing but more matter of fact in his statement of his lyrics. I enjoy this song, and would definitely consider listening further in the future.

The next group is another one and done artist, Teengenerate. Teengenerate were a short lived garage rock band from Japan, active from 1993-1996. The band was known for their fast, fun style of garage rock that often incorporated humorous lyrics, often in English. Not a whole lot of information is available about the band, but the band gained a decent following over their short career and gained a few new ones when they reformed in 2005, and began touring again. Teengenerate were another band introduced to me through my older brother, and like with Teenage Head I had seen the name in my iTunes library but had rarely if ever actually listened to the song. It's an interesting song, very fuzzed out and frantic. There's a really lo-fi quality to it that gives it even more of a garage rock feel, sounding like it was actually recorded by teenagers in their garage. The lyrics are muddled and hard to understand, and the guitar riffs are simple and frantic. It's an enjoyable song, but not something I could listen to consistently.

Following Teengenerate is the American Rock band Television. Television were a post punk rock band that formed in New York City in 1973, when they added guitarist Richard Lloyd to the trio previously named Neon Boys (See N's for info). The band started out playing gigs at the famous CBGB club in 1974 and slowly built up a cult following. The band's 1977 debut Marquee Moon was critically praised, but failed to chart well in the United States, but fared much better in Europe. The group's distinctive sound was praised heavily. The band's 1978 follow up received much less attention than their debut. The band's artistic differences eventually tore them apart, and caused the band to break up in 1978. The band has reformed several times since then, playing sporadic shows. Even though Television came about around the same time as The Ramones and played punk favorite CBGB's the band was musically much more complex than your standard punk band. The band featured intricate guitar work between guitarists Richard Lloyd and Tom Verlaine, featuring interlocking guitar lines that come together to create a tight fusion of traditional guitar lines and highly experimental guitar work. Even though the band was only together for five years, they left a lasting impact. The band has been called one the founders of the Post Punk sound. I had heard Television before this blog, having listened to the songs on this playlist occasionally. I haven't listened to much outside the three songs featured on this playlist, and the occasional song heard here and there. I enjoy Television and will definitely look into listening to some more.

Tenacious D follow Television on the playlist, and contribute two albums to the playlist. The group officially started in 1994 but had been playing shows before that without a set name for the band. The group is comprised of Front Men Jack Black and Kyle Gass, and features a rotating cast of musicians backing them both in the studio and in live performances. The two met in 1989 while performing in the same traveling acting troupe, the Actor's Gang. Though the two initially clashed, the two came together when they agreed to help each other obtain their individual goals. Black helped Gass with his acting and Gass taught Black how to play the guitar. The two started playing shows together, but didn't have a name for their band and initially just played Bobby McFerrin covers. While playing music, Black was still acting and had began to gain some attention for it. In 1997 Black became a member of the short lived HBO sketch comedy series Mr. Show. While performing on the show, in 1997, the group recorded their first original demo. Instead of landing them a record deal, the Demo landed them an offer to produce and star in their own sketch comedy series on HBO. The show only lasted three episodes before HBO cancelled it, but it gained a small cult following among fans of Mr. Show. In 2000 the band came to the attention of Foo Fighters lead singer Dave Grohl who was impressed with their performance and subsequently featured the duo in the video for the song "Learn To Fly." This attention from Grohl lead to opening spots for artists like Beck. This combined with the rising profile of Black as an actor from movies like High Fidelity, led the band to be signed by Epic Records. The group released their self titled debut in 2001 to mixed reviews, the album's single "Tribute" brought the group's Comedic Rock styling to the attention of the masses and helped the album break into the Top 30. The album while well received by the public was panned by many critics for its raunchy and debauched themes, as well as the frequent comedic skits breaking up the music. The group released their second album The Pick Of Destiny in 2006 as the soundtrack to the movie of the same name, a movie starring Black and Gass. The movie flopped, failing to make enough to cover the cost to make it. While the movie bombed, the album hit the Top 10 on the charts and topped iTunes' charts. The two took a hiatus from playing as Tenacious D and pursued their other projects. The two have now come back together and have just released their third studio album, Rize of the Phoenix. The group features lead vocals by Jack Black, but Kyle Gass is just a step below and is frequently featured as a counterpoint to Black. While Black is the Lead Vocalist, Gass is the Lead Guitarist and is the more skilled player of the two. The groups music is a mix of rock and roll influences centered heavily around Heavy Metal. The bands lyrics are often comedic and satirical, parodying the Heavy Metal genre and the music business in general. The lyrics also feature heavy use of cursing, references to prolific drug use, and references to the two's sexual and musical prowess. The group often refer to themselves as "the greatest band in the world." The first time I can really remember hearing Tenacious D was around the summer of 2001, when I was introduced to the album Tenacious D by a friend on vacation. Being about 14 at the time I of course found all of the cursing and potty humor hilarious, and I burnt a copy from my friend. I enjoyed the album tremendously and it is still one of my favorite listens. I enjoyed The Pick of Destiny both as a movie and as an album, and I have continued to enjoy the band for the past eleven years. Fans of The Lonely Island who haven't heard Tenacious D really need to check them out.

Tenacious D "Tribute"

A one and done artist follows Tenacious D on the playlist. Terror are a American Hardcore band formed from members hailing from Los Angles and Richmond, Virginia. The group has achieved moderate success in the underground hardcore scene, and have even charted on several Indie charts. The group is known for the fun antics and ramblings of lead singer Scott Vogel. The song featured here is a cover of Metallica's "Jump In The Fire," and was featured on the album Overload: A Tribute To Metallica. The song is an alright cover, but they can't match the ferocity and the intensity of the song which was featured on Metallica's debut album Kill 'Em All. The guitar work hit's all the right notes, but it somehow feels slower and mistimed. Vogel's vocals have a similar feeling of lacking intensity, his most intense vocals have the feel of the quitter James Hetfield vocal moments. It's an ok cover, but nothing special.

After a one and done artist is another full album contribution, this time it's from The Terrordactyls. The Terrordactyls are a project of two high school and college classmates Michael Cadiz and Tyrel Stendahl, who began playing together and writing together in high school. The two now live on opposite coasts, with Cadiz in Seattle and Stendahl living in Brooklyn. The album was recorded digitally and the pieces were mixed together to give it sound like the two were singing together in the same room. The album was recorded as cheaply as possible, and features Kazoos in lieu of horns as well as toy pianos. The music they produce has been called "freak folk" the songs have a folk feeling to them but their themes and lyrics tend to be surreal. The surreal feeling of the lyrics are just heightened by the kazoos and toy pianos. The group has a sound similar at times to The Moldy Peaches (see The M's), and it is no surprise that The Moldy Peaches' Kimya Dawson contributes her vocals to the record. The music isn't quite as sparse as The Moldy Peaches which is only vocal harmony and acoustic guitar, The Terrordactyls feature similar vocal harmonies but the pace tends to be quicker with more instrumentation. I got this record from my younger brother who is a fan of this genre, and The Moldy Peaches. He recommended The Terrordactyls and gave me their album, and I put it to the side for a long time before listening to it for this blog. I enjoy this music, it's fun and it's playful. It's almost like surreal children's music, with occasional adult themes. I may come back to this album more often now that I've listened to it a couple times.

The Terrordactyls "Decoration Daniel"

Several one and done artists follow The Terrordactyls, the first being The The. The The were a British Synth Pop group/project led by Matt Johnson as the group's only constant member. The The was basically a solo project for Johnson that featured a revolving cast of backing musicians, the group was a duo for a time and then just Johnson for a long time. Johnson plays all of the instruments on the song featured here, "Uncertain Smile." The The achieved moderate success, even breaking the Top 10 on the British charts. The music featured on the song "Uncertain Smile" is an interesting mix of jazz played over lilting synth lines and a steady drum machine like beats. It's definitely a sound of the 80's New Wave movement. I wasn't familiar with The The outside of seeing the name on my iTunes library from time to time. I got the song from the compilation box set Left Of The Dial: Dispatches From The 80's Underground. It's an interesting song, and an amusing enough for an occasional listen.
The next artist actually contributes two songs to the playlist, but we'll still count them as a one and done. Thee Headcoatees were an all girl rock group formed as a backing band for Thee Headcoats. The group would perform songs written by Thee Headcoats' guitar player and lead vocalist Billy Childish. The group were given songs that wouldn't fit the style of his band. The band recorded their first album in 1991, with all songs being written by Childish. The group would release one more album before the members split to pursue solo careers, Holly Golightly being the most successful of the group of four. The group was a vocal group with no set genre. This set up allowed the style of music backing them to change, and it did so often. The songs range from playful up-tempo rompers sung in French to more traditional garage rock. I didn't really know much about Thee Headcoatees before this blog, but I had seen the name in my iTunes Library for quite a while, and had listened to these songs a couple of times since being given these songs by my older brother. The song that stuck with me was "La Plaine Pour Moi." It's the French song previously mentioned. It's just a really fun song, and it was one of my favorites off of the Mp3 CD given to me by my older brother. It's enjoyable music, but not something I'm in a hurry to dig deeper into.

Thee Headcoats was a musical project of lead singer vocalist Billy Childish. Childish was a prolific producer of music as part of Thee Headcoats, releasing fourteen albums under the band's name. The band became well known in British rock scene, but never really crossed over to the United States. The band's sound was straight forward and simple garage rock. The musicianship was simple, the lyrics simple, and the recording straightforward. You knew what you were going to get if you picked up a Thee Headcoats album. The Headcoats are another band given to me by my older brother on a Mp3 CD he made me ten years ago. The music is good, and as previously stated straightforward garage rock. It's easy to do a garage rock sound, not everyone does it well though. Thee Headcoats do it well.

After Thee Headcoats is a band heavily influenced by Thee Headcoats, Thee Michelle Gun Elephant. Thee Michelle Gun Elephant were a Japanese Garage Rock band formed in 1991. The group gained some popularity in Japan before disbanding, even Breaking the Top 10 with their third album in 1997. Only the band's fourth and final album was ever released in the United States. The band's sound was straight guitar with no effect pedals used, just the natural distortion of the guitar through the amp. The band chose song titles that seemed to be random English words mashed together, but their lyrics were almost exclusively in Japanese. The band broke up in 2003. I've been familiar with Thee Michelle Gun Elephant for some time now, ever since my older brother gave me this Untitled song on the Mp3 CD he gave me. I like Thee Michelle Gun Elephant, this song has been one of my favorites from the Mp3 CD. The beat is fast paced and straight forward, never really wavering from the snare. The guitars are loud and just as quick, with strained Japanese vocals to bring everything together. I have looked for more stuff from Thee Michelle Gun Elephant in the past, but have so far been unsuccessful in finding additional material Stateside.

The last artist of this block of one and done artists is Them, who actually have two songs on the playlist. Them were a Garage Rock band formed in Belfast, in 1964. Them was created as an act to open the brand new R&B Night Club that lead singer Van Morrison was opening. Morrison joined up with the band The Gamblers, playing saxophone, harmonica, and singing. The group opened up Morrison's club in the Maritime Hotel playing unchoreographed shows that fed on the energy of the crowd in the room. Songs were known to turn into extended jams of sometimes twenty minutes. Them was signed to English label Decca, who had the band released a couple of singles that brought only minor notice before releasing their debut album in 1965. In the same year Them appeared at an event hosted by British Magazine NME, an event which featured bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. This performance of the song "Turn On Your Love Light" plus a reputation for being a rude and boorish group gained them some notice. The band's album charted in the UK, and even got some notice as part of the "British Invasion" in the US. The band released one more album in 1966 before internal strife over money split the band apart. Van Morrison went on to have a very successful solo career. The R&B influenced garage rock sound of Them played a big influence on rock bands like The Doors, greatly influencing their sound. I had heard of Them before this blog. My dad had a best of Them album and I remember listening to it a time or two with him when I was younger. Listening to these songs for the blog, they were familiar because the two songs "Gloria" and "Shine Your Love Light" are two of their most popular. I enjoy the R&B laden garage rock, and I wouldn't be against getting a copy of my Dad's CD, but it's not something I'm going to pursue heavily.

Up next and contributing a full album is Them Crooked Vultures. Them Crooked Vultures are a Rock and Roll Super Group featuring Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) on Guitar and Vocals, John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) on Bass, and Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana) on Drums. The group first came together in 2005, but did not actually release any material or play live until 2009. The band began playing Festivals dates in Europe before releasing their first single "New Fang" in October of 2009. The group steadily created more and more buzz with the hard driving music, and impressive performances. The band's self titled debut was critically praised and was on many best of the year lists at the end of 2009. There are plans for a second album sometime in the near future, but Grohl and Homme are still touring with their respective bands as well as working on Them Crooked Vultures. Them Crooked Vultures' sound is a hard driving guitars with heavy drumbeats over finely crafted bass lines. Homme employs his signature moan like vocals to bring it all together. The music has a bit of all of the different members in their sound, it's got a lot of Queens of the Stone Age especially but it also heavily incorporated Led Zeppelin's influences too. One thing you can say about all three musicians is that they know how to write a popular rock song, all three having had major success throughout their careers. I first heard of Them Crooked Vultures in 2009 when they began getting press in music magazines. I was intrigued by the lineup, and was already a fan of all three members so I decided to check the band out. I was not disappointed, their album Them Crooked Vultures was one of the best albums of 2009 in my opinion. The band comes hard out of the gate with "No One Loves Me & Neither Do I" and they don't let up for the entire album. I've long been a fan of Homme's vocals and guitar work and their put to good use here. The lyrics also intrigued me. Lines like in the song "Elephant," "I slick back my hair, you know the Devil's in there" stood out to me. I have listened to this album consistently over the past couple of years since its release and it's still a great album. If you're a fan of even one of the three members you should check out Them Crooked Vultures.

Them Crooked Vultures "Gunman"

Another block of one and done artists follow Them Crooked Vultures, starting with They Might Be Giants. They Might Be Giants are an American Alternative Rock band that formed in Brooklyn, New York in 1982. The band started as two friends, John Flansburgh and John Linnell, writing together in High School, and then reconnecting years later in Brooklyn. The two friends began performing with Flansburgh on guitar and Linnell on accordion and saxophone, and were backed by a drum machine or audio cassette recordings. The two played around town and quickly gained a local following for their unusual musical lineup and their quirky lyrics. The group eventually got a record deal and put out their debut record in 1986. In the years between starting the group and getting a record deal the group gained notoriety for their clever marketing ploys to get people to listen to their music. Their most popular ploy was Dial-a-Song, in which they advertised a number that when called would play a song the two had recorded onto an answering machine. Over the years the service is reported to have had a mix of over five hundred new songs and new versions of old songs. The groups gained some renewed popularity at the end of the 90's and early 2000's when their song "Boss of Me" was featured as the theme song for the show Malcolm in the Middle. In the past couple of years the group has been producing children's albums. I first heard They Might Be Giants when I heard "Boss of Me" on Malcolm in the Middle. I liked the song, but I never explored further into the group. I continued to be aware of the group over the years, but never really listened to them. Then I got the compilation box set Left Of The Dial: Dispatches From The 80's Underground, which featured the song "Ana Ng" on its 3rd disc. I didn't really remember the song before this blog, but after listening to the song for this blog I'm sorry I forgot about it. It's a really fun song, with an interesting mix of saxophone and earnest lyrics about wanting be "in each other's majestic presence." This song makes me interested in furthering my knowledge of They Might Be Giants' music catalogue.

Following They Might Be Giants is Thin Lizzy. Thin Lizzy were an Irish rock band formed in 1969. Thin Lizzy had a number of international hits throughout the 70's, and were distinctive for their very multicultural lineup. The band was led by Phil Lynott who has the distinction of being the first Black Irishman to achieve success in the world of Rock and Roll. The group also featured both Catholic and Protestant members, which was unheard of at a time in Irish history when the two groups were in constant conflict with each other. The band began gaining attention in the mid 70's and were frequently touring in support of popular European rock bands. The group first achieved international success in 72 when their cover of the traditional Irish Folk Song "Whiskey In The Jar" was released as a single. The song topped the charts in Ireland and went to number six in The UK. The band failed to achieve that level of success again until 1976, when the song "The Boys Are Back In Town" was released. The song was an international smash, going to number 6 in the UK and bringing the band their first US charting single. The band began touring the Unites States in support of bands like Aerosmith, Rush, Queen and REO Speedwagon. The band released several more albums that would chart in the US before breaking up in 1983. The band had experienced tumultuous lineup changes and conflict between members and leader Phil Lynott. Lynott had been working on solo projects at the same time and had began merging the two projects. In 1986 Lynott passed away from organ failure due to complications from his frequent drug usage. The group is considered one to the great hard rock bands of the 70's and is sometimes considered part of the Heavy Metal movement. The band's songs are still frequently on rock radio. I can't recall the first time I heard Thin Lizzy, most likely around the time I started listening to Rock Radio, so probably pretty young. I've never really explored beyond "The Boys Are Back In Town," but that's not to say that I don't enjoy the song. It's a great song, and one I still enjoy even after having heard it so much over the years. I enjoy Thin Lizzy, but I'm not sure if I will ever explore further.

Next up is a downloaded podcast of This American Life. This American Life is a weekly radio program broadcast on public radio, and hosted by Ira Glass. The show is a series of mostly nonfiction stories told in "acts." The shows tend to revolve around a central themes and presents stories based around that theme. The stories generally involve interviews and personal accounts by the people mentioned in the story. The stories tend to center around the human condition, and things that effect our lives. The theme featured on this podcast is Love, and the idea "I Love You So How Could It Be Wrong." The show has two acts, the first of which features the story of a woman and her relationship with a Macaw Parrot she purchased as a teenager at seventeen and twenty three years later the bird still lives with her and now terrorizes her young family. The story focuses on the woman explaining her love for the bird, and her young children trying to understand why she loves the bird. The five year old children are constantly terrorized by the bird named Gideon. The woman explains that the bird sees her as its mate and attacks them because it sees her pick them up and be close to them. It's an interesting segment, about a person's attachment to animals and how love can overrule all the negatives. The second story is a biographical short story about the relationship between a very handsome man and a very homely women. The story delves into the brief sexual relationship between the two and is read by the author of the story. The story discusses their brief time together and at times tries to explain to the author himself what actually occurred. It's an interesting story about how despite having feelings for someone on the surface our internal turmoil can cause us to be unintentionally cruel to that other person. Both stories are interesting looks into the effects of Love on people. I've been listening to This American Life for years, my parents are big fans of the program and I've been listening to it with them for years. I will continue to enjoy This American Life, they continually present interesting and thought provoking stories, and this will keep me coming back.

The next one and done is the band Thought Riot. Thought Riot were a Rhythmic Hardcore band from California. The band came together in 1997 as a group of young musicians who wanted to portray their philosophical and political ideals. The group featured a rotating cast of musicians throughout their ten year career, often changing members but with founding member Marc Riot (guitar and vocals) being one of the only constants. The band was signed to A-F Records and toured extensively in the middle of the 00's. The band's lyrics often incorporated ideas from Fredrick Niche, and disestablishment ideals. The music was your standard Rhythmic Hardcore sound very similar to bands like Strike Anywhere, with yelled vocals over simple power chords. I first heard of Thought Riot back around 2004 when the song featured here, "You're Gonna Die," was featured on Rock Against Bush Vol. 2. The song features lyrics about class and race disparity in the quest for justice. It's an enjoyable song, and I enjoy the Rhythmic Hardcore sound when it's done well. The song isn't anything particularly groundbreaking, and is very similar to fellow Southern Californian bands like Strike Anywhere. I don't think I would ever really listen to Thought Riot any other capacity then as part of a compilation/mix.

The final one and done artist before the next full album contribution is a song by The Three O'Clock. The Three O'Clock were a short lived Power Pop group from Los Angles who first came together in 1981. The band originally called The Salvation Army changed its name in 1982 after The Salvation Army charity complained. The band released their debut album the next year, and gained some MTV play with their follow up album in 1985. The song "Her Head's Revolving" received some minor airplay. They were signed to Warner Brothers for their third album in 1986, the album flopped despite a guest appearance from Prince. The band broke up shortly afterward. The song featured here is "Jet Fighter," which was a major college radio hit featured on their debut LP. The song is very upbeat and catchy, with bits of New Wave mixed with Pop Rock. The tune is a very good example of the Power Pop movement of the 80's. This song came to my iTunes Library via the compilation box set Left Of The Dial: Dispatches From 80's Underground. This wasn't one of the more memorable songs for me, despite its poppy and catchy nature. It's a fun power pop tune of the 80's, but not really my style and not something I'll listen to outside of Shuffle on my iPod.

Thrice is up next, breaking up the string of one and done artists by contributing two albums to this playlist. Thrice are a rock band from Irvine, California that came together in 1998 when two High School friends decided to start a band. The group quickly gained buzz for their fast/ hard style of playing that featured complex time signature changes, and prominently featured guitar lines played with heavy distortion. In 1999 the band's self released EP gained them enough attention to get signed to a minor label and record their 2000 debut LP. That LP in turn got them signed to a larger label for their 2002 follow up The Illusion of Safety, a record that really started to display their complex style. The album gained the band even more buzz and got them singed to major label Island Records. The band toured extensively behind the album gaining even more national attention, starting as a supporting band and eventually headlining their own tours. The next year, in 2003, the band released their Major Label debut The Artist In The Ambulance. The album was even more successful than their previous album, with the albums two singles "All That's Left" and "Staring At The Sun" receiving minor airplay on Alternative Rock radio. The album once again displayed their hard driving style featuring changing time signatures and heavily distorted guitars. In 2005 the band released their fourth album Vheissu, the album was meant as a growth of the band's musical style and featured additional instrumentation in the form of strings, electronic programming, and piano. The album was lyrically more abstract and spiritual than its predecessors. The album was not as well received by many fans, but the band didn't cave to pressure to revert back to their old style and has since continued their stylistic exploration on their proceeding releases. The band is also known for contributing a portion of each album's profits to charitable organizations and getting their label to match their contribution. I first heard Thrice back in 2003 with the release of The Artist In The Ambulance. I heard "All That's Left" and "Staring At The Sun" on rock radio and was hooked. I purchased the album and I really enjoyed it. It was a lot different than a lot of the stuff I was listening to at the time, and it quickly fell into heavy rotation on my home stereo. I've continued to enjoy the album over the preceding years, and I even enjoyed the first single from Vheissu "Image Of The Invisible." I didn't check out the rest of the album because I heard it panned by a couple fellow Thrice fans. I did however pick up The Illusion Of Safety a couple of years ago after hearing the song "Deadbolt" on a video game. I really enjoy Thrice's loud but complex style, and I'm a big fan of lead singer Dustin Kensrue's vocals which moves from pleading wails to angry shouts. I'm still a big fan of The Artist In The Ambulance and have come back to it several times over the years. I may eventually check out some of their new work, but for now I'm really happy with the two albums I have.

Thrice "Stare At The Sun"

Following Thrice is a single one and done artist before our next full album contributor, that artist is Throbbing Gristle. Throbbing Gristle were a Performance artist group/ Industrial Music Forefathers/ Anarchist Punk group who formed in 1976. The group was controversial for their live performances which often featured pornographic images and images of Nazi concentration camps. Musically they played a mix of synthesizers and guitars put together with taped "samples" of found sounds and random audio clips. All of this was meant to be thought provoking and intended for people to make their own opinions and thoughts. The band said it was exploring the dark side of human obsessive behavior, and not trying to make "attractive" music. The group performed through 1981 and released two albums before calling it quits. The group has been cited as founder of the Industrial Movement but was also associated with the Anarchist Punk scene of the early 80's. I have been aware of Throbbing Gristle for a while now, but never really listened to them before getting the song featured here in the 80's Underground box set that I've mentioned previously. The song is definitely interesting to say the least, it features computerized sound effects with almost spoken monotone vocals. I don't dislike the song, but I'm not sure I have much of an opinion on it otherwise.

Next is a album from the band Tigercity. Tigercity are a band I don't know much about, and wasn't able to find a whole lot of information about. Tigercity are a New York based band who so far have only released an EP, with a full length album coming in the very near future. The music featured on this EP is upbeat, poppy, and very danceable rock and roll. Their musical style is very similar to bands like The Rapture. The music features major influences from 80's Pop, Soul, and R&B. There are vocal harmonies that would feel right on home with artists like Michael Jackson and funky synth lines that wouldn't be out of place with bands like Parliament. I got this album from my younger brother, but hadn't really listened to it before this blog. It's an enjoyable album, but it got repetitive at times for me. Several songs open in a very similar manner, and I found myself asking "wait didn't I just hear this song?" It's a fun record, with some very good tunes. I wouldn't mind hearing them from time to time on Shuffle but I'm not sure I'm a long term fan.

Tigercity "Are You Sensation"

After Tigercity comes an album from the band Tokyo Police Club. Tokyo Police are from Ontario, Canada who came together in 2005 when four band mates in a just dissolved project started fooling around playing shows at peoples' houses. They generated some buzz playing the festival circuit and were signed to a Toronto Indie Label in 2005. The band toured extensively on the festival circuit and supported Weezer for a few of their 2008 tour dates before they released their debut album in 2008. The album was praised in the indie rock scene, but didn't really make a mark in the more mainstream scene. The band continued to gain attention, but even with the release of their acclaimed 2010 follow up Champ (the album featured here) they haven't really broken into the mainstream. Their music tends to be very up tempo with a very clean guitar sound interspersed with guitar effects. I was given this album by my younger brother as a birthday present, he was a fan and since our musical tastes overlap very often he sent me this album. I enjoy this album, it's a lot of fun. I don't listen to this style of rock all the time, but it's fun to listen to from time to time. I like the up tempo/ upbeat nature of the songs. This album hasn't been in extensive rotation, but I have listened to it from time to time over the years. I may eventually look into their debut LP, but this will hold me over for a little while.

Tokyo Police Club "Bambi"

Up after Tokyo City Police Club is Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman. The Nightwatchman is the folk music "alter ego" of Tom Morello. Tom Morello gained fame in the 90's for his role as the lead guitarist of Rage Against The Machine. He became known for his unique playing style which incorporated heavy feedback, guitar effects, and unconventional picking techniques. When Rage Against The Machine broke up Morello joined the rock super group Audioslave, a group featuring Chris Cornell of Sound Garden, and the former bass player and drummer for Rage Against The Machine. Morello created the alter ego of The Nightwatchman as an outlet for his political musings and thoughts. The songs touch on current political issues and policies that Morello is usually singing against. The Nighwatchmen is more in the vein of Folk Rock, and for the first time in his popular career features Morello on lead vocals. His 2007 debut was primarily Morello singing with an acoustic guitar, but his follow up (featured here) includes a group of backing musicians called The Freedom Fighters Orchestra. The songs still prominently feature Morello on acoustic guitar but also feature more complex backing instrumentation and vocal harmonies. I became a fan of Tom Morello when I became a fan of Rage Against The Machine, I really liked his style of playing and the solos he performed in Rage Against The Machine's songs. I wasn't as big a fan of Audioslave, but when I found this CD in a pile of CD's meant for the radio station I was DJing for I decided to give it a try. It's an interesting record, and a decent attempt at making Dylan-esque music. Morello has an interesting baritone voice, that fits the music well. It's an interesting listen, but not something I would listen to often.

Tom Morello: The Nightwatchmen "Night Falls"

Tom Robinson is up with just one song before our next full album contribution. Tom Robinson is an English Singer Song-Writer who has had a very diverse career. Inspired by an acoustic Blues performance while in High School he joined an acoustic trio who released one album, an album produced by Ray Davies of The Kinks. After seeing the Sex Pistols in 1976 he left the acoustic trio to form The Tom Robinson Band, a group which took more of a social activist lean. Robinson wrote songs relating to the homosexual experience, and the pride he took in being a gay musician. The song featured here "2-4-6-8 Motorway" is a song alluding to a gay truck driver. The band achieved success in their very brief career with several songs charting in the UK, including one of their best known songs "Glad To Be Gay." The band broke up after only two years and Robinson moved onto a solo career. He achieved success as a solo artist as well, and had several songs chart. He also wrote songs with Elton John in the early 80's, some of which also charted. He has continued to be an activist over the years. The musical style of the song here is very much in the style of early British Punk, but also features a little guitar solo. It's lyrics are almost chanted in the chorus, but this also makes it very easy to sing along to the song. I wasn't familiar with Tom Robinson before this song, and I haven't listened to it much since I got it. It's a fun song and in a style I enjoy, but being only one song by a name that I don't really know it gets skipped over. I'll enjoy the song in shuffle.

After a quick one and done artist we have two albums from Tom Waits. Tom Waits is a prolific singer songwriter who began his musical career at the start of the 70's when he began playing at Los Angles' Troubadour. He began to gain some attention for his unique style and was signed to Asylum Records in 1972, releasing his first album the next year. The album was well received but didn't garner much attention from the general music public until a couple of the songs from the album were covered by big name artists of the time like Tim Buckley and The Eagles. He began touring with artists like Martha and the Vandellas and Frank Zappa. Waits gained even more success with the release of his third album Small Change in 1976, breaking the Billboard Top 100 for the first time. Waits continued to have success and signed with the major label Island Records in 1983. During this time period Waits began acting in minor roles in several movies and was providing music for soundtracks of several others. As the 80's progressed Waits began moving away from the Jazzy Blues influenced ballads he had been playing and he began to experiment with different instrumentation. Waits continued to branch out in the 90's writing music for several plays, and acting as well. With each album he released he received extensive critical praise, but never cracked to Top 100 again until 1999. Waits has continued to steadily release new music every few years his latest release being 2011's critically acclaimed Bad As Me. Over his prolific career Waits has released an impressive total of twenty two albums. Waits' musical style has varied widely over the years, but most often incorporates elements of Blues, Jazz, and Vaudeville. Tom Waits is known for his extremely distinctive vocals which are a very gravelly growl or a gravelly crooning, it's the kind of voice you can imagine someone who has been smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for years would have. Although Tom Waits has never achieved large commercial success he is one of the most respected artists in the industry and among critics. I can't recall the first time I heard Tom Waits, but the first time I can remember listening to Tom Waits and knowing it was Tom Waits was with the release of his 2002 album Blood Money. My Dad had a copy of the CD and I remember listening to it with him on the way to school on several occasions. I was introduced to more Tom Waits over the year and I've been a fan of what I've heard. I eventually burned Blood Money from my Dad, and I purchased Bad As Me for my Dad and subsequently burned it from him. I was very impressed with Bad As Me, the album is spectacular. I'm a fan of Tom Waits, and will be for the foreseeable future.

Tom Waits "Bad As Me"

After Tom Waits comes another one and done artist, this time it's Tommy Tutone. Tommy Tutone was a Pop Rock band from San Francisco. The band was founded in 1978 by Tommy Heath and Jim Keller who played rhythm and lead guitar respectively. The two would remain the only constant members as the band went through a revolving cast of rhythm sections. The band is best known for their 1982 hit "867-5309/Jenny," which reached number four on the Billboard Chart, but the band also had a Top 40 hit in 1980. The band never achieved the same success again, but the song became so well known that 1000's of people still dial the number 867-5309 as a prank and ask for Jenny. I've been aware of Tommy Tutone for a long time because this song is so popular and is still played on oldies stations. The song is catchy with an easy to remember chorus that even the most casual of rock and roll fans usually know. I've never heard anything else from Tommy Tutone, and I don't really have a desire to. The song is a fun 80's Pop hit, and it will never be anything more than that.

Next up is an artist who contributes four individual tracks to the playlist, Toots and the Maytals. Toots and the Maytalls formed in Kingston, Jamaica in 1961. Frederick "Toots" Hibbert formed the group at the age of 16 with several of his friends. With Toots on vocals the band began recording with the famous Studio 1. They began to achieve minor success in Jamaica and in the UK as well. The group originally just called The Maytals had a string of successful hits at the end of the 60's and beginning of the 70's, and quickly became the most popular group on the Island of Jamaica. The group was the first to use the word reggae. After their producer died in 1971 the group worked with his engineer and an old producer to produce a string of three international hits including the album Funky Kingston, the title track of which is one of the songs featured on this playlist. The group toured Europe with The Who and then toured with Bob Marley and the Wailers. The group eventually broke up near the beginning of the 80's. The group is credited as being one of the founding members of the reggae musical style, a variation of the ska musical style popular in Jamaica and the UK at the time. The group is widely praised as one of the greatest reggae bands of all time. I first heard of Toots and the Maytals when my older brother gave me several of their songs on an Mp3 mix CD. I had grown up listening to Bob Marley and the Wailers, and had always enjoyed the Reggae style. These songs are all really good, Toot's soulful/passionate voice really brings these songs together into a tight well made package. I enjoy Toots and the Maytals and would be open to exploring further.

The next artist on the playlist is Totally Michael. There isn't a lot of information about Totally Michael around, but I'll go off of what I remember from the times I've seen him live. Totally Michael grew up in Arkansas, moving to Bloomington, Indiana later in life. Totally Michael began producing his own music and eventually touring with bands like Matt & Kim and mc chris (where I first heard him). Totally Michael plays pop punk style songs with dance beats. It's just one person, Michael playing guitar with his laptop backing him. His songs tend to be upbeat and comical, dealing with humorous themes. "Winona" is a song about Winona Ryder, her stealing from Saks and his crush on her. The song features such humorous lyrics as "Now I know I'm not a high class retail outlet, but I'd love for you to steal my heart!" "Cheerleaders vs. Drillteam" is a song about "making the hardest choice you'll ever make. Two applications one for cheerleading, one for drill team which one are you gonna take?" Then there is the hilariously raunchy "Casual Satisfaction." I first heard Totally Michael when I saw him open for mc chris a few years ago, I was impressed with what I heard and I bought his CD right there. I talked to him after the show and he was super nice. I listened to the album on repeat for several weeks after the concert and I've consistently come back to it time and time again over the years. The album is just a whole lot of fun both musically and lyrically. I saw Totally Michael again a couple years later in Toronto and he was still just as fun. Totally Michael is a must listen for fans of Atom and His Package, Math The Band, and mc chris.

Totally Michael "Winona"

Another one and done artist comes before the next full album contribution, that artist is Townes Van Zandt. Townes Van Zandt was a country musician who never really gained much success till after his death in 1997. Van Zandt had a small loyal following during his career that spanned the 70 to the 90's, for this he was considered a cult musician. While never achieving success himself, covers of his songs by artists like Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan went to number one. Van Zandt was a troubled soul diagnosed with manic depression, and struggled throughout his life with addiction. He is often considered one of the founders of the outlaw country genre. I'm not sure exactly when I first heard Townes Van Zandt, but I've been familiar with the name for a while now. I can't say exactly where the song on this playlist, "Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold," came from but my guess is my older brother. It's a really good song, with just a sparse acoustic guitar accompanying Van Zandt's spoken lyrics. The song makes allusions to a deck of cards talking about "Queen of Diamonds" and other face cards as characters in a story. I like this song, I don't like new country music but this is the type of country music I can enjoy. It's simple, not over produced to the point of being empty. It's got soul and feeling behind it. I would definitely consider looking further into Van Zandt.

Coming up on the playlist after Townes Van Zandt is Toy Dolls. The Toy Dolls are a British Punk band formed in 1979. The group which started as a quartet quickly became a trio after their original lead singer left after just a few gigs. This started a trend that would continue for the band, with new lead singer and guitarist/founding member Olga being to only constant member. The band quickly started gaining attention with the release of their first single in 1980, but really broke through with their cover of the British children's song "Nellie The Elephant," in 1982. The song went to number one upon its release, and then to number four upon its reissuing as part of the band's 1983 debut album Dig That Groove Baby (the album featured here). The band distinguished themselves from the rest of the punk scene by taking the musical style of punk rock and replacing the usually aggressive lyrics with fun comedic lyrics usually filled with alliteration. The group over the years has had a revolving cast of bass players and drummers, having had twelve and fourteen respectively. The Toy Dolls are still active today. I first heard of the Toy Dolls around 2005 or so when I was really starting to get into punk rock. Toy Dolls were a group that frequently came up in my discussions with other fans of punk rock. I was then given this album by my friend Andrew (see Jack's Lament). I listened to it a couple times back then and enjoyed it, and then rediscovered it again a few years later for this blog. This album is a whole lot of fun, the songs are lyrically comical and are well done. I enjoy the Toy Dolls, but I'm not sure I'll ever explore much further.

Toy Dolls "Nellie The Elephant"

A few one and done artists proceed the Toy Dolls before the next full album contribution, the first being The Trashmen. The Trashmen were a surf/garage rock group from Minneapolis, Minnesota formed in1962. The group achieved international success in 1963 with the release of their best known hit "Surfin' Bird," a combination of two songs by the R&B group The Rivingtons. The band went onto release 14 albums (including singles). The song "Surfin' Bird" has been featured in countless movies, television shows, and has been covered by an extensive list of artists. It became popular again in 2008 after appearing on an episode of Family Guy. I can't recall the first time I heard The Trashmen's, "Surfin' Bird" is just one of those ubiquitous songs you grow up hearing. I've always enjoyed the song, it's just really fun and easy to sing along with. I don't know that I'd ever explore further than "Surfin' Bird" but I wouldn't be adverse to it.

The one and done artist following The Trashmen is Trio. Trio were a short lived German rock band that formed in 1980. The band had a series of Top 10 hits in Germany and gained popularity in several countries, but never achieved the same success they experienced in their native Germany. The group is best known for a song who's title translates in English to "Da Da Da I Don't Love You, You Don't Love Me Aha Aha Aha," but is often simply abbreviated to "Da Da Da." In 1982, the song went to number two in Germany, Canada, and The UK. The band was noted for breaking away from the trend in German popular music of simple musicianship with slick and ornate overproduction, the group instead played stripped down songs usually featuring no more than a guitar and drum with minimal production and simple three chord progressions. The band broke up in 1985 due to infighting among band members. The song "Da Da Da" has been featured in several commercials over the year, including quite a few American commercials despite the band never really gaining much attention in the States. I first became aware of Trio when my older brother gave me an Mp3 Mix CD back around 2005 or so. The song wasn't one that I recalled from the album, there were a lot of songs and others had gained more of my attention. I hadn't listened to this song since those first listens to that Mp3 CD. It's a good song, very simple and straightforward, but not something I'll be listening to much going forward.

The next band has two songs on the playlist, that band is The Troggs. The Troggs were an English rock band that came together in 1964. The band was quickly signed by The Kinks' manager Larry Page, and quickly became a hit. The band achieved its greatest success in 1966 with the release of the song "Wild Thing," the song went to number two in the UK and number one in the US. The song is the band's most well known and has become a garage rock standard in the years following its release. The band achieved two more charting singles in the US and also had a couple only chart in the UK. The band broke up in 1969. Their brief run was memorable for many, especially artists like Iggy Pop, the MC5, The Ramones, and Jimmy Hendrix. Hendrix famously covered "Wild Thing" in a performance that ended with him setting his guitar on fire. The song "Wild Thing" has become one of the best known Garage Rock songs of the 60's and is still frequently played on Classic Rock radio. I can't recall the first time I heard The Troggs, but I imagine it was pretty young because I can remember growing up listening to "Wild Thing." The song is a classic. It's not overly complicated, featuring only a few simple guitar chords strummed lazily over a sparse simple drum beat. The two songs on this list are two of their lesser known hits "Come Now" and "Love Is All Around Us." Both follow a similar simple format, and both are garage rock classics. I like the Troggs, but I'll probably just stick to "Wild Thing."

Up next is a song from prolific Canadian rockers Trooper. Trooper came together in 1975, forming in Vancouver, British Columbia. The band came to the attention of Bachman Turner Overdrive and The Guess Who's Randy Bachman, who signed the band to his label. The band released their debut album the same year, and it quickly got them signed to major label MCA. The band quickly became a hit in Canada, with their 1976 major label debut going Gold in Canada and in 1977 their follow up went Platinum. Their 1978 album went double Platinum and produced their only US hit "Raise A Little Hell." They released two albums in 1979, the first went double platinum and the second (a greatest hits album) went Quadruple Platinum. The group continued to have success throughout the 80's in Canada, but never again achieved wide success outside of Canada, the group is still active today. I first heard Trooper a few years ago when my older brother included this song on the Mp3 CD he gave me. I really liked "Raise A Little Hell," it's a catchy rock song. The song is easy to sing along to, and just straight forward fun. I don't have much of a desire to explore beyond this song, but I do enjoy this song.

Following a string of one and done artists the next band contributes a full album to the playlist, that band is Tsunami Bomb. Tsunami Bomb were an American Pop Punk band from California who came together in 1998. The group had a tumultuous beginning, losing their original female vocalist after only a few months. She was replaced with the woman who was simply called Agent M, Agent M was their vocalist through the remainder of their career. The band released a few singles in 1999 before releasing their debut EP The Invasion From Within, which is the album featured on this playlist. The band released their debut LP two years later. The band toured relentlessly, and became a Vans Warped Tour staple. The band lost founding member and bass player Dominic Davi in 2003 due to turmoil within the band, and then lost their guitarist and primary song writer Mike Griffen the next year. The band called it quits in 2005 after two years of turmoil finally broke them. Tsunami Bomb played a style of Pop Punk rock very reminiscent of early Blink 182, but with a female vocalist and featuring light keyboards. The band was really defined by Agent M's vocals and their fondness for B Movie themes and lyrics. The album The Invasion From Within! opens with pipe organ very reminiscent of something from Phantom of the Opera. I first heard of Tsunami Bomb back around 2006 or so, I was exploring punk and I heard them on a punk rock sampler. I really liked Agent M's vocals, she had a lot of power and emotion in her voice and I like it combined with the Pop Punk sound of the band. I found The Invasion From Within! at the radio station where I was DJing and burned it to my computer. I had also previously burned the song from the sampler to my computer. I enjoy the group, and I'm sorry they broke up. I would be interested in exploring further someday, but they aren't a band high on my list of bands to explore further.

Tsunami Bomb "The Invasion From Within"

A one and done artist comes up next, this time the one and done is the band Tullycraft. Tullycraft are an indie rock band from Seattle, Washington formed in 1995. This band is an indie rock group who is credited as members of a movement in indie rock called "twee," a movement I couldn't find much explanation of. The band was notorious for being fiercely independent, they only release music on small independently owned labels or self release their music. The band despite (or because of) this has gained a moderate cult following. The band has release six full length albums and several singles to date, all on small labels, and sometimes on international labels. The band's brand of music is considered indie pop. The song featured here "Twee" is a single from their third album. The song is has a very quick tempo, featuring rapid strumming, a simple synth line, over a snare heavy drumbeat. The vocals match the tempo, and are quickly recited with small breaks in the music not breaking the pace. It's an enjoyable song, but not something I can see myself listening to much outside of shuffle.

Next is the Tune-Yards, contributing a full album to the playlist as we near the end of the playlist. The Tune-Yards are a band based around lead singer Merrill Gulbis, a New England native who started this musical project in 2006. The Tune-Yards mainly consist of Gulbis, but Bass player Nate Brennar joined her in 2011 to flesh out the group a little. The Tune-Yards' music is based around drum loops and the voice work of Gulbis. Gulbis loops and distorts her voice to create vocal effects that play as their own instrument in the songs. The first album she released, 2009's Bird-Brains, was recorded on a handheld voice recorder and originally distributed on recycled cassette tapes. The album got her noticed and she was eventually signed to 4D records who re-mastered the album and gave it worldwide release. As she continued to garner more attention she added Brennar on bass and released her 2011 album Whokill, which featured songs co written by Gulbis and Brennar. For this album Gulbis recorded everything live in the studio, with the entire band playing the song at the same time instead of recording individual parts and mixing them together later. The album was released in the first half of 2011 and was met with critical praise, being named to best albums of the year lists by Rolling Stone, Spin, Time, The New York Times, and NPR. Whokill once again features Gulbis using her voice as an instrument and drum loops, but there is also an addition of saxophone, guitar, and bass to compliment everything. With a backing band, Gulbis' voice is allowed to be a complementary instrument instead of the primary one. I first heard the Tune-Yards in the middle of 2011 when I heard the record featured on NPR. I really liked the first single "Bizness," and looked it up after hearing it on NPR. As I continued to listen to the song, I became more and more intrigued with their sound, and eventually purchased the album a few weeks later. I wasn't one hundred percent sold on Tune-Yards after my first listen, but upon repeated listens I became a bigger fan of the album. I now agree with the critics who named it one of the best albums of 2011, the album is wonderfully creative. The different ways Gulbis uses her voice and mixes it with the music make for some very interesting songs, in a good way, and it really is what makes her music unique. I'm a big fan of Tune-Yards, and look forward to future releases from them.

Tune-Yards "Bizness"

The next artist is a one and done artist, The Tune Rockers. I couldn't find a whole lot of information on The Tune Rockers, there was no information on Wikipedia and a Google search didn't turn up much. What I can gather from the information snippets I've seen, they were a band based out of Buffalo, New York and were active in the 1950's. The song featured here "Green Mosquito" comes to this playlist from an album called Bad Music For Bad People- Songs The Cramps Taught Us. The song is a very rockabilly sound, but one that is mixed with saxophone to give it a sound that definitely reminds you of stuff The Cramps would put out years later. The guitar effects give the sensation of a scurrying creature, mixed with your usual rockabilly rhythms. The song is an instrumental, and its influence on The Cramps is easy to see. I like this song, it's very interesting and I wouldn't be averse to hearing more.

As the end of the playlist comes ever closer we have an album from Turbonegro. Turbonegro are a band from Oslo, Norway who formed in 1988. The band quickly recorded a single and an EP which saw limited release. Not long after releasing the album the group's lineup changed, a situation that would reoccur throughout their career. With the new lineup came a slightly new sound. The band would get a new vocalist in 1992 when their original singer became ill and was forced to quit the band. Their new vocalist has become their most well known vocalist. The continued to tour Scandinavia and Europe, developing their signature stage show along the way. The group became known for their live antics, antics including lead singer Hans Erik Husby sticking a roman candle in his butt and lighting it. With each new record the band's sound seemed to change, with their early work being noise rock which evolved into punk, which evolved into metal. The band's sound that gained them their fame was 70's Rock mixed with a punk sound featured on their 1997 album The Apocalypse Dudes. The album was released to high praise and began getting the band noticed by a wider audience. Just as they were experiencing fame the group was forced to break up due to Husby having mental issues due to his frequent drug usage. The band's contracts were subsequently bought out by a new label who reissued all of their albums, this caused the band's popularity to soar. The rising popularity led the band to reform and began touring again in 2002. Husby left the band in 2010, and the band now continues on with a new lead singer. The band's sound has been described as "deathpunk," this description is based on the band's usage of the term to describe their music. Their sound has evolved with each album, but their best known sound is the one on Apocalypse Dudes, which was a mix of bands like The Rolling Stones mixed with The Ramones. The band is probably best known to the American public for their song "The Age of Pamparius" which was featured as the opening music for the MTV show Wild Boyz, a show featuring Jackass stars Chris Pontius and Steve-O. The band's music also appears in Jackass. I first heard of Turbonegro when I started getting into punk rock back in 2005, they were frequently mentioned by people I talked to. Then I made the connection of their songs in Jackass, and liked what I heard so I bought Apocalypse Dudes. I really enjoy this album, it's a great rock and roll album with some hilarious lyrics. There are songs like "Don't Say Motherfucker, Motherfucker" and "Rock Against Ass." The band is a whole lot of fun and I would love to see them live someday. I'm not sure if I'll get anymore albums since this one has been described by many as being their best.

Turbonegro "Get It On"

We have one final one and done artist before our last full album contribution. The Turtles were a California Folk Rock band formed in1965. The band started as a Surf Rock band but quickly changed their sound to Folk Rock to match the trend of popular bands at the time like The Byrds and The Beatles. The band quickly found themselves near the top of the charts, and achieved their first number one hit with what is probably their best know song "Happy Together." The song was rejected by several other bands before The Turtles decided to record it. The Turtles achieved a number of charting singles, but never again matched the success of the 1967 hit. The song is as its title implies very "happy," the song seems to have a very sunny air about it. It's nice and simple and the vocals are delivered in a sincere manner. The song has become ubiquitous, and has been used in countless movie soundtracks and on several TV shows. Most fans of rock and roll, and even a lot of non fans, should be familiar with this song. They may not realize the band's name, but they're more than likely aware of this song. I've been aware of this song for as long as I can remember, it's just one of those songs you grow up hearing. I enjoy the song, it's a fun song but I don't have any interest in exploring further into The Turtles.

Finally we have TV on the Radio, who contribute four albums to this playlist and close out the playlist. TV on the Radio are a New York City based rock band that came together originally as a duo in 2001. The two founding members of TV on the Radio are Tunde Adebimpe (vocals and loops) and David Sitek (guitar/keyboards/loops). The band released its first EP itself and then quickly filled out the lineup and released their 2003 Young Liars EP. The EP gained them critical praise and led the way for 2004's Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes. The album gained the band even more attention which they capitalized on with the release of 2006's Return To Cookie Mountain. The album garnered them major write ups in major music publications, many of whom named the album their album of the year. The band toured extensively in support of the album and appeared on late night TV to promote it. Then in 2008 the band released Dear Science, which yet again received high critical praise and was named several publications' Album of the Year. The band took a year long hiatus in 2010 and then returned in 2011 with their newest album Nine Types Of Light. The album was once again highly praised by critics and landed on many best albums of 2011 lists. The band's sound is a mix of indie rock, post-punk, electro, and soul music. The band lists influences like The Pixies, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Wire, Bad Brains, and Earth, Wind & Fire. The band has drawn praise for their combination of these musical styles. The music usually contains a mix of live instruments mixed with looped noises or programming, with Adebimpe's falsetto rising over it all. I became aware of TV on the Radio back in 2006 with the release of Return To Cookie Mountain. I heard the album's single "Wolf Like Me" and saw the video on MTVu and really liked the song. Despite this, I didn't really explore beyond that for a while until a couple of years later I picked the album up from my little brother along with Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes, and a live album. I wasn't really sold on their sound outside of "Wolf Like Me" at first, and for a while that was the only song I enjoyed. Then as I came back to the albums again I began to enjoy them more, and it all finally clicked and I was a fan. I picked up Nine Types Of Light shortly after it came out and enjoyed that album as well. I enjoy the variation of styles present in their music, and I find them to be one of the more creative bands playing right now. I may not have started out as a fan, but I'm hooked now!

TV on the Radio "Wolf Like Me"

That's the end of this post and the long eight month hiatus of this blog. It was a challenge getting back into the groove of writing after being away for so long, but I'm glad that I did it. I'm happy to have this post finished, and it helps that there was a lot of great music in the T's. I'm back in the groove now, and I hope to have the U's done within the next month. Please stay tuned and thank you for reading.