The 10 Best Summer Albums

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Beach Boys Summer Fun

Editor’s Note: This list was originally published in 2012, but works for any hot day, regardless of year.

So here we are, deep into this relentlessly hot and sticky summer of 2012, and hopefully you are enjoying it as much as we are. It’s the time of the year for swimming pools and popsicles, baseball and biking, and sweating your ass off not matter what, no matter where. Thus we bring you our favorite albums to accompany such occasions. What makes a summer album you ask? In our opinion it is somewhat upbeat, but not overly so. Something that you can groove too whether you’re too hot to do so or not. Since I was a young lad, Austin was only knee high to a grasshopper, and Wes was just a Pooh-cub scrounging for honey, there have always been these certain songs, artist, and albums that have always left their impression on our young summers. So we decided to list out some of our favorites. Making a particularly strong appearance are some favorites from the nineties. We aren’t really sure why, but I suppose some nineties artist just really know how to set the tone for a particular summer mood. Please feel free to tell us what does it for you …
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Top Ten Thursday: Top Ten Rick Rubin Produced Albums

rick rubin, portrait

No, that picture above is not Ernest Hemingway and Steve Earle’s love child.  It is in fact uber-producer Rick Rubin, the man who has successfully navigated alt-rock, hip-hop, country, and just about every other genre in music with startling success.  Currently on Rubin’s radar is helping Kanye fine-tune Yeezus, easily the most eagerly awaited hip-hop album of 2013.  This is interesting, because Kanye has always been a bit of a “do-it-your-selfer” which has served him very very well.  It makes sense though to bring in the man who produced some Public Enemy, Beastie Boys and Run D.MC. when Kanye is aiming for a more minimalist experience (explained more fully in the New York Times interview).  This minimalism Ye is going for highlights an overriding theme for the albums on our list:  Strip down artists to their most raw and basic qualities and build the album up from there.  Rubin may not have one musical style he can be attached to, but there does seem to be a way of making music that is very clear.

We tried to limit this list to albums Rubin had a large hand in producing, leaving off the likes of Jay-Z’s Black Album and JT’s FutureSex/LoveSounds where he only produced one track each.  We also left off sure top-5 Lucinda Williams album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road because Rubin only handled the mixing of the album.  The only other major qualm people might have with this list is the lack of a Slayer album.  Well, I personally just don’t like metal, and so even if Slayer is the cream of the crop, I’m not gonna listen to it.  Enjoy the list, and as always feel free to comment on albums you think we missed or erroneously included.

10. The Black Crowes – Shake Your Money Maker

shake your moneymaker

Interestingly, I read Rick Rubin wouldn’t allow his name to be put on as producer of Shake Your Money Maker until it sold one million copies.  Was he not happy with the outcome?  Did he think it was destined for commercial and/or critical failure?  I don’t know, but I do know The Black Crowes in 1990 did The Stones better than The Stones were doing themselves.  With the alternative scene blowing up at the time, Shake Your Money Maker was a nice respite from the uniformity of most everything else out there.
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Top Ten Thursday: Sounds of Summer

Beach Boys Summer Fun

So here we are, deep into this relentlessly hot and sticky summer of 2012, and hopefully you are enjoying it as much as we are. It’s the time of the year for swimming pools and popsicles, baseball and biking, and sweating your ass off not matter what, no matter where. Thus we bring you our favorite albums to accompany such occasions. What makes a summer album you ask? In our opinion it is somewhat upbeat, but not overly so. Something that you can groove too whether you’re too hot to do so or not. Since I was a young lad, Austin was only knee high to a grasshopper, and Wes was just a Pooh-cub scrounging for honey, there have always been these certain songs, artist, and albums that have always left their impression on our young summers. So we decided to list out some of our favorites. Making a particularly strong appearance are some favorites from the nineties. We aren’t really sure why, but I suppose some nineties artist just really know how to set the tone for a particular summer mood. Please feel free to tell us what does it for you …
Continue reading “Top Ten Thursday: Sounds of Summer”

Red Hot Chili Peppers Review: I’m With You

Red Hot Chili Peppers

I’m With You

Of all the alternative rock bands that made a name for themselves in the 90’s, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have had better longevity and commercial viability than almost any of their other counterparts. I suppose Green Day has done alright for themselves commercially including creating their own musical but their music has been worthless since the mid 90’s and Pearl Jam has continued to pump out albums and put on strong live shows, but their albums have been recycled material for the last decade as well. My theory for the Chili Peppers continued success- the chemistry of the four band mates that came with the return of phenomenal lead guitarist John Frusciante from drug addiction for 1999’s Californication and the following albums that embraced pop melodies and feverish guitar and bass play. But now, following Frusciante’s second and likely final departure from the band, the band regroups but can’t recuperate with I’m With You, their latest exercise that finds the Peppers recycling their sound in redundant and uninspired ways.
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