Top Ten Thursday: Duets to Die For

duets 2

We decided it was finally time to make a list concerning the combination of kindred vocals.  Duets that is.  A guy and a girl is the most popular concoction, but there is certainly room to wiggle with that formula on this list.  For frame of reference, we attempted to stay away from two very specific types tracks that may be considered duets.  The first area is hip hop tracks.  R&B tracks are fine, as long as they don’t interfere with the next criteria, but it seems every hip-hop song has multiple rappers, or at the least one rapper and someone else for the hook.  Just seemed a little too muddled.  The second criteria we aimed to stay away from were artists that have two vocalists, where almost every one of their tracks might be able to be considered duets.  Sorry, but we were looking for duets where the source recording is at most part of a one-off album.  As always, I think we crafted a solid list, but am certain we missed something along the way.  Feel free to offer suggestions, and enjoy.

10.  The Postal Service & Jenny Lewis – “Nothing Better”

jenny lewis, postal service, nothing bettter

Ben Gibbard & Jenny Lewis combine for an electonic-infused back and forth on The Postal Service’s 2003 track “Nothing Better”.  The conversational tone of Gibbard and Lewis vocals is about as fun as it gets, and makes us thirst for more than just a Postal Service tour reunion.  Record a new album!
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St. Louis Cardinals Walk-Up Music: Year End Review

picture of busch stadium neon light sign at night

I probably saw my last Cardinals game in-person last Friday, unless of course I am gifted with the holy sacrament of playoff tickets.  So it is appropriate after seeing about 12 or so games this year to evaluate the players’ choices for the music playing when they walk up to the plate.  What makes a great walk-up tune, you ask?  There are two main factors.  First, the song must be good, which is pretty self-explanatory.  If a player ever walks up to a Dashboard Confessional song, that is not good.  Second, the song should be appropriate to the player’s general demeanor and on-the field persona, and to some extent performance.  Bonus points can also be given if the track is somewhat humorous and obviously clashes with the player’s persona, but this territory should be tread carefully, much like trying to shoot the moon while playing Hearts.  In no particular order, here are seven notable walk-ups.
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This NOT That: Looking Sharpe

I have been listening to a lot of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros lately, as well as other Alexander Ebert Projects (which include his other band, Ima Robot, and his solo work, Alexander).  In all honesty, I am not sure there has been a busier man in music the past 3-4 years.  In that span, he has released two Magnetic Zeros albums, two Alexander albums, and one Ima Robot album.  Averaging over an album per year is a truly impressive feat, particularly when the end product has gotten consistently better (especially with his Edward Sharpe persona), culminating in the latest Magnetic Zeros album, Here.  I’ve only been listening to it for a couple weeks, so I thought it a little late in the game to review (it came out months ago), but thought I could hit on a couple recent Alexander Ebert songs, as well as a couple older ones, in another edition of This NOT That.

NOTE:  for those of you that are not familiar, This NOT That is a format where we take lackluster currently charting tracks, and replace them with more easily digestible alternatives.  Check out our last two entries in the series here and here.
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Bonnie “Prince” Billy Review: Now Here’s My Plan

Bonnie “Prince” Billy

Now Here’s My Plan

Bonnie Prince Billy, Now Here's My Plan, album, cover, art

I can assure you it is a coincidence that I am reviewing an EP for the second week in a row, and am not so lazy that I have decided to solely review half-albums.  It just so happens two of my very favorite artists (The other being The Antlers who released Undersea a couple weeks ago) have released EP’s within a short span, and I feel the need to give my opinion on each.  On Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s new EP, Now Here’s My Plan, Will Oldham (who is the real name behind the ridiculous moniker) takes six tracks from his extensive catalogue, rearranges them, and brings them forth in a whole different light.  The result turns out to be Oldham’s most consistent release since 1998’s Lie Down In the Light, and further proves he has been one of the greatest songwriters of our generation.
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Top Ten Thursday: Best Covers Albums

cover album art for william hung inspiration

After the painful experience of reviewing Neil Young’s new cover album, Americana, we decided to go back to some of our old favorites, and create a list of the top ten cover albums.  It was surprisingly difficult to find a comprehensive list of cover albums that have even been released, so I am certain we are missing a couple of classics, but also was very happy with strength of the list we came up with.  Another couple items of note is that the album needed to be 75% covers to be considered and a lot of 1950’s and 60’s albums were not considered.  A lot of early Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc. albums were comprised mostly of covers because that’s just the way the music business was run back then.  Somebody would have a minor hit, then ten artists would cover it to bandwagon and try to copy its success. 

So what makes a great cover album?  There are a lot of opinions on that, but we firmly believe it is not enough to simply mimic already great songs.  What we like to see is an artist keep the feeling of the original but substantially change the arrangement.  Also great is when an artist manages to rescue a song from obscurity and make it completely their own.  There is not absolute formula to a great cover song or album, but as with most of our list the following selections hit us the hardest.  On to the list.

10. David Bowie – Pin Ups

album cover art for david bowie pin ups

Bowie’s lat album with The Spiders from Mars was a tribute album to some of his favorite tracks from the 60’s.  Pin Ups contains classic songs from The Who, a lesser known track from Pink Floyd’s most underrated era, a Kinks track for the ages, and some lesser-known bands that I probably would have never been turned onto otherwise such as The Pretty Things and The Easy Beats.  All of these things fused with the Bowie twist means it is a sure-fire instant eargasm.

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Top Ten Thursday: In Memory Of …

picture of memorial day activities such as fireworks and parties

So maybe Memorial Day is really to honor solely fallen servicemen and servicewomen in the United States.  But we wanted to make a list of the top ten songs memorializing just about anyone to give us a little more to choose from.  So whether it be a fallen loved one, fellow musician, fictional character or national figure, all songs about the deceased are fair game.  So in the words of everyone’s favorite dead collector, “Bring out yer dead”.
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