Top Ten Albums of 2014 - Extended to the Best 20 records of 2014!

DrShoresBestCDs2014

For the first time since I started making a year-end top ten or top 20 list I had a hard time even finding 20 new releases that I really liked. Don’t get me wrong, the 20 albums listed below are good, many are even great, but with the exception of the top 10, they just don’t live up to years past. I’ve heard some of my music critic peers say what a great year for music this was and unfortunately I just didn’t hear it. I will be the first to admit that my year was consumed with a new job and family and I may have missed some great releases. I hope to remedy that in 2015 by getting the ObviousPopCast back up and running! That said, if you haven’t heard the following releases please do yourself, your ears and your heart a favor and give them a listen!

  1. The New Pornographers - Brill Bruisers
  2. Steve Taylor and The Perfect Foil - Goliath
  3. Eno-Hyde - High Life
  4. Beck - Morning Phase
  5. Sloan - Commonwealth
  6. Secret Powers - 6
  7. U2 - Songs of Innocence
  8. Cliff Hills - Song Machine
  9. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness - Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
  10. Bleachers - Strange Desire
  11. Imogen Heap - Sparks
  12. The Drums - Encyclopedia
  13. Moon Hooch - This Is Cave Music
  14. Clockwork Orchestra - A Fish For A Heart
  15. Husky - Ruckers Hill
  16. Dan Wilson - Love Without Fear
  17. The Choir - Shadow Weaver
  18. TV On The Radio - Seeds
  19. Jukebox the Ghost - Jukebox the Ghost
  20. Mike Doughty - Stellar Motel

BEST REISSUES OF 2014: Trip Shakespeare - "Applehead Man" & "Are You Shakespearienced"

BEST MOVIE OF 2014 (by a long shot!): Guardians of the Galaxy

BEST BOOK OF 2014: The Magicians Trilogy Boxed Set


ObviousPopCast - Episode 38 - A Plethora of New Music!

OPC50sHeader
Episode 38 of the ObviousPopCast is now ready for mass consumption! A veritable plethora of new music awaits! Featuring new songs from The Feeling, Aaron Sprinkle, Polyphonic Spree, The Suburbs and more! What are you waiting for? You can stream or download it right now as a high quality MP3, and most importantly, it's free!

 

To stream it now click play:

 

Download it now: ObviousPopCast Episode 38

 Add it to your iTunes podcasts: CLICK HERE

(If you use the link to download it to iTunes, it may go into your podcast folder or possibly be listed in the main music library under the title: ObviousPop or the artist name: Dr. Tony Shore.)

EPISODE 38 TRACK LISTING

Song – AlbumArtist

Lazer Gun Show - Lazer Gun Show Single -  Hey Geronimo

Partner In Crime - Pop Motion Animation - Greg Pope

Born Under a Good Sign - Si Sauvage - The Suburbs

River of Lead - Water & Guns - Aaron Sprinkle

Hearts Like Ours - In Rolling Waves - The Naked and Famous

Wave Forms - Ski Mask - Islands

Heaven High - Heaven High - Lifesavers

Save Us - New - Paul McCartney

Sugarcandy Mountain - Alls Well That Ends Well - The Candle Thieves

You Don't Know Me - Yes, It’s True - The Polyphonic Spree

That Is Why (Live on air in Holland, March 17th,1993) - Radio Jellyfish - Jellyfish

Blue Murder - Boy Cried Wolf - The Feeling

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The Best Albums of 2013

DrShoresBestCDs

Best of... Top Ten CDs... Top 20 Albums... It's that time of the year again! Actually, it's already 2014, but I like to make sure I haven't missed anything and there were a number of great releases that came out in late 2013. Yet, no matter how long I wait to finalize the year-end list I always discover something that I missed, but that's all part of the fun! Here are my top 20 albums of the year. I have even ranked them. It was no easy task but it had to be done. Please enjoy the list and if there's anything here that you haven't heard you should definitely check it out!

The ObviousPop Best Albums of 2013

  1. Daniel Amos - Dig Here Said The Angel

  2. Aaron Sprinkle - Water and Guns

  3. Bleu - To Hell With You

  4. OMD - English Electric

  5. Wintergatan - Wintergatan

  6. Midlake - Antiphon

  7. Kyle Andrews - Brighter Than The Sun

  8. The Duckworth Lewis Method - Sticky Wickets

  9. Gungor - I Am Mountain

  10. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

  11. Capital Cities - In a Tidal Wave of Mystery

  12. Paul McCartney - New

  13. The Feeling - Boy Cried Wolf

  14. White Lies - Big TV

  15. Everything Everything - Arc

  16. The Suburbs - Si Sauvage

  17. The Candle Thieves - All’s Well That Ends Well

  18. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City

  19. Brendan Benson - You Were Right

  20. Islands - Ski Mask


New Song from Jeff Lynne! "Stream of Stars"

Jeff_lynneAmerican Hustle is a hot new critically acclaimed film. I haven't seen the movie yet but I do own the soundtrack! It's one of the best soundtracks I've heard in years and features a number of classic tracks and a rare ELO tune. But the best thing about it is a brand new track from Jeff Lynne of ELO fame. This is not a cover or a remake, it's a fantastic new song entitled "Stream of Stars"...a great song from a fantastic soundtrack.

 


ObviousPopCast Episode 37 - New Music Now!

PodcastAnd we're back! Episode 37 of the ObviousPopCast is here for you to hear! A massive amount of new music just waiting to be discovered! Listen to new songs from White Lies, Daniel Amos, Paul McCartney, Michael Penn and more! I know we said the last episode was our best ever, but we lied! THIS episode is our best yet. You can stream or download it right now as a high quality MP3, and most importantly, it's free!

 

To stream it now click play:

 

Download it now: ObviousPopCast Episode 37

 Add it to your iTunes podcasts: CLICK HERE

(If you use the link to download it to iTunes, it may go into your podcast folder or possibly be listed in the main music library under the title: ObviousPop or the artist name: Dr. Tony Shore.)

 

EPISODE 37 TRACK LISTING

Name – AlbumArtist

New - New - Paul McCartney

Radioactive - Night Visions - Imagine Dragons

Safe and Sound - In A Tidal Wave Of Mystery - Capital Cities

Kids In Toyland - Kids In Toyland - Fresh Body Shop

Why Can't I Be Me Without You? - Hey! Hello! - Hey Hello

Coming Off Pretty - The House of Jed - The House of Jed

On Your Way - Girls Soundtrack Volume 1 - Michael Penn

Oh My Love - Oh My Love [Single] - Brendan Benson

Jesus Wept - Dig Here Said the Angel - Daniel Amos

Sticky Wickets - Sticky Wickets - The Duckworth Lewis Method

Romancer - Evil Arrows - Evil Arrows

There Goes Our Love AgainBig TV – White Lies

Colored By¡Alarma! [Deluxe Reissue] – Daniel Amos

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NEW MUSIC! Episode 36 of the ObviousPopCast - Listen now!

PodcastEpisode 36 of the ObviousPopCast is finally ready for your consumption! New music marinated to ear tingling perfection! Listen to over 50 minutes of brand new music from Kyle Andrews, OMD, Bleu, The Duckworth Lewis Method and more! In the immortal words of St. Thomas Aquinas, "This could very well be our best show ever." You can stream or download it right now as a high quality MP3, and best of all, it's free!

 

To stream it now click play:

 

Download it now: ObviousPopCast Episode 36

 Add it to your iTunes podcasts: CLICK HERE

(If you use the link to download it to iTunes, it may go into your podcast folder or possibly be listed in the main music library under the title: ObviousPop or the artist name: Dr. Tony Shore.)

 

EPISODE 36 TRACK LISTING

Artist – Song Title – Album Title

[bed music] Wintergatan - Sommarfagel - Wintergatan

Hawaii: Part II - Isle Unto Thyself - Hawaii: Part II

Orchestral Maneuvers In the Dark - Atomic Ranch - English Electric

The Killers - Spaceship Adventure - Yo Gabba Gabba! The Super Music Friends Show

Bleu - The Bottom Of My Heart - To Hell With You

[bed music] Daft Punk - Contact - Random Access Memories

Secret Friend - Who Am I? - Time Machine

Kyle Andrews - The Way To WonderBrighter Than The Sun

The Duckworth Lewis Method - It's Just Not Cricket - Sticky Wickets

[bed music] Wintergatan – The Rocket - Wintergatan

Family Of The Year - Living On Love - Loma Vista

Pretty & Nice - Stallion & Mare - Golden Rules for Golden People

Everything Everything - Cough Cough - Arc

[bed music] Wintergatan – Valentine - Wintergatan

Holmes - Mr. Blue Sky (A Capella) - Covers

Michael Carpenter - We Don't Talk Anymore - Drink A Toast To Innocence: A Tribute to Lite Rock

An American Underdog - Thunder Island - Drink A Toast To Innocence: A Tribute to Lite Rock

[bed music] Wintergatan – ParadisWintergatan

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Bob’s Vinyl Revulsion

VinylheadphonesOur favorite music industry blowhard is, of course, Bob Lefsetz. Everyone who’s anyone in music reads Bob’s missives (or as many of them as possible while still having a life). Sometime Bob posts multiple times per day via his email list/blog. The amazing thing is how often his opinions are on target and well written. Unfortunately his output and ego are so enormous that when he misses, it’s cringe inducing. He also goes through streaks where his ego driven opinion blinds him to common sense, logic or reality. This is all magnified by the sheer length and high-octane word count of many of his posts/articles. That won’t stop me from being a fan though. Some of those moments are cringe inducing, but his writing is beyond great, and like a deadly car crash in a high-speed chase, it’s still entertaining and hard to turn away. Bob has a fan-base that reads like a who’s-who of music royalty and he loves to name drop. It’s entertaining and we can all be a part of it by reading, and even emailing him.

Bob recently had a post called “Bugging Me” (yes, he’s that obvious in his role as curmudgeon) where under the heading “The Vinyl Revolution” he stated, “It's a hobby. Like stamp collecting. Albeit with a lot more press. Just because you spinners are yelling at the top of your lungs that does not mean the rest of  us care. While you're at it, why don't you bring back dial telephones,  typewriters, cathode-ray TVs, pagers...” Sometimes I wonder if he really is being that bothered by this, or if he’s trolling for reactions. I think he’s trolling, but I’m not going to lash out, I’m just going to point out…why he’s so off base and on the wrong side of this one. Bob’s credo (when it suits him) is that the industry failed and is always failing because it won’t embrace new technology and trends. I agree and truly believe that is a correct statement. The problem is that he carries that opinion like a club through an antique store trying to kill a fly. Oblivious to what is right, true or good.

The album as a work of art is now lost on him, and many others. It’s great to wax poetic about how music moves you, but what about that experience on the headphones when you listened to your favorite album all the way through while studying the jacket, lyrics and liner notes. Do you want to know one of the reasons no one can stand to listen to music for the entire length of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” anymore? It’s because of the digital format. But you can listen to an entire concept record like The Wall on LP while looking at the nice big artistic double gatefold album and reading the lyrics without ear fatigue…if you own it on vinyl and are playing it on a turntable. Can you do that digitally? You can try, but digital music causes ear fatigue and you better own a great monitor and have very young, healthy eyes to read along staring at your monitor for that length of time.

I get the fact that the pops and clicks scare away some folks from vinyl, but if you keep it clean it’s cool, and it is much more listenable because it’s analog. Sorry Bob, comparing vinyl to the rotary phone is not accurate. The rotary phone was in no way better than phones today, except maybe for the fact that it may not have caused cancer and didn’t need a battery. At any rate, an album is an art form that includes the packaging and the lyrics, not to mention being able to listen all the way through on headphones is a big plus. Why criticize people who appreciate album art and packaging? Nice to know you don’t care about that, I’m just surprised because I really thought you would. I also think the majority of your readers do care about the album as a format and the album as art. I do and I am proud of it. Is it a hobby? It can be and I think record collecting is a great hobby. I find it very odd and perplexing that Bob does not think it’s a good hobby. Is his point that it’s a fad so why should anyone care? Well, it’s a “fad” that’s outlasted and been around longer than all other formats. Will it supplant the singles driven digital market? No. But come on Bob, seriously, is anyone claiming that? No one that I know of is remotely making that claim. I don’t hear any one claiming that it’s the future of music delivery either, so why the negative post? Why are you against people saying how great vinyl is? That’s what the majority of people I respect in this business think. It promotes the album as a whole work of art; it encompasses packaging with room for more art, lyrics and liner notes than any other format, and has a warmer sound that is more natural to the human ear. I love iTunes and Band Camp and downloading new music, but I am thankful for the vinyl revolution that is keeping the album as an art form alive and well.

I encourage you to subscribe & read Bob’s blog: http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/

(Most of the time) it’s amazing. For some reason he doesn’t get why some people like the vinyl. Weird.


Three New Must Hear Albums! New Music is Now!

This has been a fantastic week of new releases. Fans that want their music with more experimentation and creativity need look no further than these 3 new albums.

SteveWilsonRavenFirst up is the new album from Steven Wilson, The Raven That Refused To Sing. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Steven, he is the founder of Porcupine Tree and has been involved in many prog and experiment endeavors both as an artist and a producer. Never before has he reached these heights however. It may pain some Tree fans out there, but this album is definitely the best thing he has ever done, and that is saying something. It is the culmination of what he’s been trying to achieve with Porcupine Tree. Progressive art rock and fusion fans will love it, but there’s more here going on that should attract others as well. Serious Yes fans will have a hay day with the first track, “Luminol” which borrows liberally from the band, including the Drama style opening and the vocals and arrangements at about 7:40 into the song. There is also some flute and orchestration that reminds me of Chris Squire’s Fish Out of Water solo album. In fact, the bass on this first track is very Yes and King Crimson, which shouldn’t be a total surprise as the bass and Chapman player on this album is the amazing Nick Beggs who ranks up there with the greats. This album pushes the limits and boundaries unlike anything that you have heard in awhile. If only the groups and artists that influenced this record were still making albums as good as this. Just because you can hear some blatant influences here and there doesn’t mean this one isn’t original. The best way I can describe it is Steven took the best of his Porcupine Tree style to a whole other level. You can definitely hear him and that bands sound all over the record. There is no doubt this is Steven Wilson, but it is so much better than his first solo album or anything he’s done. The vocals, the arrangements and the songs are all superb and one step beyond. It’s edgy, it is beautiful and somehow manages to be both melodic and experimental at the same time. Not a bad song on it and it is diverse enough to hold the interested of even the most jaded listeners. Steven Wilson has made his Fragile or OK Computer.
Check it out here: http://stevenwilsonhq.com/

AtomsForPeaceSpeaking of OK Computer, I gave up on Thom Yorke and Radiohead years ago. I have bought and listened to everything he’s done, but the only 3 albums I can stomach were the first three, Pablo Honey, The Bends and OK Computer. Part of that may be because they were so brilliant and Thom and the boys couldn’t live up to that. But the songwriting itself, not to mention the sound, took a sharp turn into ambient drudgery that is so awful; I think no one would buy it if it didn’t have the name Radiohead on it. That’s my opinion, please don’t flame me for it. I know so many critics fall all over themselves for everything that band touches but it’s not for me. Thom’s solo effort and work outside of Radiohead has also left me wanting…until now. Thom has put together a band with Nigel Godrich (Radiohead’s long-time producer) and Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers) called Atoms For Peace and this week saw the release of their debut album, Amok. Thom and the crew have been working on this one since 2010 and Yorke’s electronic experimentation continues on this album, but what makes it work here, versus everything he’s attempted since OK Computer, are the songs. They have a groove; they have vocals and real instrumentation that you can hear.  The elements all come together here to form a quirky mix that electronica fans and Radiohead fans should equally enjoy. I don’t love it, but I like it, a lot. It is extremely creative and original, unlike anything else out there. Thom’s voice shines when he lets it and I think this is going to be incredible when performed live. That said, it’s not a hooky record with memorable melodies for a sing-a-long, nor can you dance to it (not that I’m looking for anything to dance to) but it is full of quirky keyboards and sounds that manage to hold my interest. Thom’s lyrics are moody and interesting and the music is experimental and fun enough to hold your interest. This is an album to put on when you really want something different to listen to. Start with the tracks “Before My Very Eyes” and “Ingenue.” The artwork and packaging are brilliant as well.
Check it out here: http://atomsforpeace.info/

Everything-Everything-ArcWhile Atoms For Peace is a good record, it probably won’t make my top ten this year, we’ll see how things shape up. One record that definitely will make it is the new one from Everything Everything. I have saved the best for last here. The new one is called Arc and it is yet another brilliant album coming out of the UK. This one sets itself apart though by managing to be totally original. Arc is only available as an import right now, but it is worth the extra few bucks. The amazon.co.uk store has the deluxe version with a disc of 6 bonus tracks and it is well worth the price of admission! I discovered this band back in 2010 at SXSW and they were fantastic. Their Man Alive album had a couple of great songs that I played on the ObviousPopCast. Arc is a huge step forward though because the entire record is great, from start to finish. You can currently get two of the tracks from the album (both are very good) on iTunes right now. The first single and one of my favorites is “Cough Cough.” Great song, and dare I use this word again, it’s very “quirky!” Take that Andre Salles! I actually have Andre to thank because I wasn’t aware this new one was releasing and he gave me the heads up. Check out his totally different an much more professional reviews at www.tm3am.com . Another stand out track is “Kemosabe” and is also available now on the “Cough Cough” EP on iTunes. If you like those 2 tracks you’ll love the entire record. If you don’t, well, what in the world is wrong with you?
Check it out here: http://www.everything-everything.co.uk/home

COMING SOON: New podcast with new music and more!

 


Corin Ashley’s Power Pop Dream

CorinAshleyNewLionTerracesCorin’s dream comes true with his New Lion Terraces release. This is the album he’s always wanted to make. His dream was to record at Abbey Road studios in the shadows of his musical heroes like The Beatles and Badfinger. I have to say he’s living the dream and has to be happy with the results. Sure, the fact that he scraped and saved to fulfill a dream of recording there is a neat story, but it wouldn’t matter if the songs and final results were not good. Fortunately this fantastic album is a power pop masterpiece. Fans of Badfinger, Matthew Sweet, The Beatles and Jellyfish need to grab this one. Don’t get me wrong, the recording sounds like it was done like a classic album in a great studio, you know right away this is not a bedroom recording, so there is something still to be said about Abbey Road...But again, it’s the songs that make it. The hooks and the wonderful arrangements are the highlight here. With each listen I find something new to enjoy. "Geeze Louise" is the obvious single that will be played on the ObviousPopCast, but it’s a tough call when every song sounds like an A-Side. "Second Hand Halo" is a close second.  There’s still time to donate to his Pledge Music drive and get a copy. I recommend the CD and Vinyl!

Check it out here: http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/corinashley