My Top 5 Lead Singers

It has certainly been a while everyone but I am back with a new post. In light of the recent passing of two very prominent singers in rock music, Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington, I thought I would do a little “Top 10” list of my Top 5 Lead singers. When I started thinking about this list, I wasn’t only thing about their skill in singing or how long or high they can hold a note. I was thinking of a mixture of just pure singing talent, stage presence, and stage chemistry with the band behind them. So here they are:

5. Josh Krizska

josh kiszka

You may not recognize this guy right now but believe me, you will in a few years! He is the lead singer of a great new band called Greta Van Fleet. It is very hard to describe his voice so please!, just go to iTunes or Youtube and look the band up. It is an incredible and very different voice. It was made for rock n roll. A lot of people are comparing his voice and the band to Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin and yes, there is clearly influence there but their music is completely their own and his voice is very unique! He has the Plant squeal but with incredible power. He also has the classic charisma that you want with any great Rock n Roll singer. Greta Van Fleet and Josh will be a force to be reckoned with in the future.

4. Jay Buchanan

jay buchanan

There are no words! Jay Buchanan is the lead singer for one of my favorite bands, Rival Sons. His voice was the first thing that struck me when I first heard their music. He has a very smooth and powerful voice like a Robert Plant but with so much soul and blues like Janis Joplin. This guy is a powerhouse. I was lucky enough to see Rival Sons live and he has this very interesting stage presence where even though you can tell that he is in his own head when he is singing, the audience also really responds to him. He is one of my favorites because he is powerful, bluesy, soulful, and loud but also there is definitely a darkness within him whenever he sings which is very interesting and makes you listen closely. He will always be in my Top 5.

3. Scott Weiland

scott weiland

As my mom said, he was the voice chameleon. Scott Weiland was famously known for being the lead singer of the band, Stone Temple Pilots. I have known about Stone Temple Pilots for a long time and have been a fan for a long time as well but it wasn’t until I saw the live recording of the 2010 show in Chicago that Scott become one of my favorite singers. Even before we get into his voice, he has an awesome stage presence, if not the best. He has that rock n roll charisma but also the rock n roll front man masculinity. Just like Jimmy Page does when playing guitar, whenever Scott sings live, he puts his whole body into it, not just his vocal chords. Apart from having an awesome voice, he has this ability to have multiple voices at once and switch between them within a song. That is a great secret weapon to have. To put it all in a nutshell, he is the quintessential rock n roll front man. RIP.

2. James Brown


Mr. Brown may not be “Rock n Roll” technically speaking, but he was definitely a pioneer of what would be what we know today as Rock n Roll. He had it all: a raspy, powerful voice, dance moves like you have never seen, high energy, and soul for days. I may be 27 and James Brown was WAY before my time but he is always entertaining to watch. Being a front man for him wasn’t just about singing, it was dancing, entertainment, business, and giving the people what they want! Just like many of the greats, he was a perfectionist and drill sergeant to his back-up bands. James Brown was the whole package. RIP.


1. Robert Plant

robert plant

The viking himself! It’s Robert Plant. I could just say that and end this excerpt now. In my opinion, he is all of the 5 previous singers on this list in one! He has the soulful and bluesy voice but also the thundering and powerful yell. He has the charisma of a true front man. He was like a different person when he was singing live. He also, at the same time, had a humble voice. It was completely raw and you could tell that he was putting all of his energy and strength into that voice even though he made it look really easy.


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Rival Sons conquer the Paradise!

So let’s get the obvious over with….the poet they had on tour with them, not a great idea in my opinion. A little bit of a buzz kill. I guess I just did not “get it.”

Now let’s get into the good stuff!

Two nights ago, May 17th, I went to the Paradise Rock Club to see one of my favorite bands, Rival Sons. As we walk up to the venue and get in line, it was a very expected atmosphere. The people here, well….most of the people, really love good music and good bands. Right down the line, I am seeing Zeppelin t-shirts (like mine), Sabbath shirts, etc. Age groups ranging from teens to 50s and older. Ponytails, long beards, etc. The perfect atmosphere for the show. Next, we make our way through the line and into the venue. We then find a good place to stand and the waiting begins…While we wait, they really did a great job with hiring a DJ of sorts to spin old 45s on the house speakers instead of the generic music. This idea was genius in my book. Then, we wait…

The Rival Son’s lead singer, Jay Buchanan, comes out and introduces the first band, The London Souls. As soon as these guys start, they are amazing. The just tear up the stage with a sound that has the soul and groove similar to Gary Clark Jr but the distortion, heaviness, and excitement of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and it is only a two person band made up of drums and guitar. They rock the house, a perfect opening band for the Rival Sons. Watching them and hearing the sound they make between the two of them gives me hope for the future and for the music they make which is hard to find these days. I loved them so much that I bought one of their records at the show since I knew the money was going to go directly too them instead of buying it off iTunes or Newbury Comics.

Then there was a poet, enough said.

Now, the anticipation is really building especially after the “poet.” Finally, the lights dim and the stage is then hinted with a small amount of red light. We start hearing The Good, The Bad and The Ugly theme. It was a perfect opening to the band! Finally Rival Sons come out and just completely obliterate the crowd. I totally lost it when they came out. There music is so powerful that I just immediately got in the zone and had this big release of anticipation and stress. It was something I have never experienced before at a concert. I couldn’t control myself. It was as if the sound just completely hit me across the face and flew right through me. I was in my own world. It is weird to say it but it was almost cleansing in a way, mentally, and it felt like I was releasing stress that I had built up in the last couple weeks. It was definitely a unique experience. They just tore through the first 3-4 songs with such a powerful sound, it made the little Paradise feel like Gillette Stadium. In my opinion, it takes a very gifted band to make a sound like that and make you feel a certain when you see them live. It was exactly what I needed.

Rival Sons are on a special path. I don’t think that path is to become the biggest band ever but instead it is a path the leads to making music that lets people feel a release of some kind. I came to this realization the other night at the Paradise. It was a special concert as well for me, mentally. Apart from the times I spend with my family and the moments that I have with and the love I have for my girlfriend, music moments like the one I had during the first couple songs are moments that I don’t believe I could ever have with my job or my friends or a moment like getting a new car or house. It hits you much deeper and it very emotional, at least for me. It is something you would not expect to happen at a concert.

That pretty much sums up the Rival Sons show. It was a personally emotional but extremely fun night. Above all else, the music was incredible and made you feel the way you should truly feel at a live rock ‘n’ roll show. I can’t wait to see them again.











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Greta Van Fleet – Black Smoke Rising EP

Be honest…when was the last time you listened to a piece of music that sent chills down your spine? I would have to say, on how the popular music is today, a very long time. There have been very few times in my life that 60 seconds into the first song I listened to from a band, I instantly knew they were a new favorite. Something like that just does not happen anymore because of the way that music is released and the mindset we are in when listening to music. I am guilty of it myself, just browsing through the Friday releases on iTunes. One day, on Spotify, I am looking at bands that are suggested to me because I am searching for a specific artist. I come across this unusually named band called Greta Van Fleet. They seemed to only have 3-4 songs out so far so it was very new, so I start to listen….Well, that was it for me!

This little, 4 song EP is a rock ‘n’ roll explosion. To me it felt like all the bad, processed music out there today kept building…and building…and building until one day, it exploded and released this breath of fresh air called the Black Smoke Rising EP from Greta Van Fleet. Let’s just start with the obvious: the lead singer. If Robert Plant was dead, Joshua Kiszka would be the reincarnation of him. You really have to hear it to believe it. The notes he can hit, and the range is unheard of, at least in the current rock ‘n’ roll industry of the last few years. If the singing wasn’t enough, the band, made up of his two brothers, Samuel and Jacob Kiszka and friend Daniel Wagner, is just incredible. It would basically be if Led Zeppelin was a garage band. Heavy drums with a groovy, heavy bass line and Page-esque, bluesy/rockin guitar.

In terms of the EP, they did a great job on the songs they chose. They start off with the big number, “Highway Tune.” It is just straight up rock ‘n’ roll with a touch of “southern fried” guitar in there as well. After the straight forward entry to the EP, they go into a much more groovy sound with “Safari Song.” Next, they channel a little low-key Zeppelin with “Flower Power.” This song is a reminder of great tunes such as “Ramble On” and “That’s The Way.” They end it with probably my favorite song on the album, “Black Smoke Rising” which is hard to compare with another song but sounds a little close to the band Wolfmother.

I could go on and on about the influence Zeppelin, Sabbath and the other greats must have had on them but what seems to make Greta Van Fleet so great is that even though they sound like the greats, their music is very original and fresh. Sure they take a lot from their influences in terms of the sound but they are making their own music and that is what makes this band special. They don’t seem to be trying to impersonate anyone from the past.  They are doing their own thing and I think that is what will make them well-known in years to come.

The band says that they will be releasing 3-4 more EPs which will complete a whole album. All I can say is that I cannot wait until I can get more music from these guys and hopefully a full album will be in the works sometime in the future because they are just too good to not listen to on wax. So please, if you are like me and you are tired of searching far and wide for the next great band, look no further than Greta Van Fleet.

Greta Van Fleet

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Top 10 Album Covers

When I think of album covers, I think of something that is supposed to pull you in and be a companion to the music within that album. After you take out the record, put it on the turntable and start spinning, the album cover will be something that you will be looking at through this entire music experience so it has to be something that is the visual representation of this sonic magic coming out of your speakers. That is the great thing about vinyl records. It is about the entire experience, both hearing the music and also, in a way, seeing it. When I put together this Top 10 list, I wanted to have albums that did a genius job of mixing the album cover with the music that was created within the record. Enjoy…

Led ZeppelinLed Zeppelin


If this list was ranked #1 being the best and #10 being the worst, Led Zeppelin’s debut record would shoot straight up to the top of the list, no questions asked. This is the quintessential record when it comes to the album cover fitting the music on the album and I am not just saying that because it is and will always be my favorite Zeppelin record. Even though the subject of this photo is tragic, it is a perfect representation of how raw, and heavy the music is. It is a thunderous sound throughout the album and fits the image of a giant air ship, falling from the sky. It is truly an explosion of sound.


Foo FightersEchoes, Silence, Patience & Grace


In my opinion, this was the Foo Fighter’s last great album. The album cover itself is what I would call a perfect and creative cover for a true rock n roll record. I mean, what else could be more perfect for the cover of a rock record other than an aerial bomb armed with a guitar amplifier tube. It also has this vintage feel and a rugged look to it which matches the music perfectly. The cover depicts a mix of the heavy, no bull rock n roll with a more softer, rugged, vintage folk feel and that is exactly the diversity of music that is found on the record. The music on this album really is a sonic weapon.


Black SabbathBlack Sabbath


If you are looking for an album cover that will really get you into the mood for the music on the album, than look no further than Black Sabbath’s debut record. It is everything that the music is: dark, gloomy, and mysterious. Whoever created this photo for the album was genius. It is a very creepy and dark photo and you do not really know what it means or who that women is or even what house that is in the background. It gets your imagination working and that is very important when you listen to music. It really gives you the perfect vibe to be in when listening to this record. This would be a great record to turn off all the lights and listen to it with just one candle lit. Also, you canNOT beat the first Sabbath album…I mean c’mon…N.I.B.!




This is one of the more iconic album covers, at least for Rush fans and rock fans in general. You have to think about it as someone who has never heard this album before. Just looking at it, your first thought is “What in the world does that red star represent?” and then you see 2112 titled under Rush.  Knowing it is Rush, it has to be significant in some way. If you are new to the album, it really grabs your eye and sparks your imagination. If you are a seasoned Rush fan, it is a perfect album cover. The red star being the “logo” of the solar federation in the 2112 story and 2112 being the year in which the story takes place. It really goes well with the story and music.


The Jimi Hendrix ExperienceAxis: Bold As Love


I love this album cover because not only is there so much color and so much going on but it just puts me in the right mood to listen to the record. It is very cool to look at while you are listening. This may be my favorite Hendrix record and the cover has always pulled me in. Simply put: it is just the coolest cover out there.


SoundgardenKing Animal


This is a more recent album for the well-known band, Soundgarden. As soon as I saw this, I loved it. I love anything relating to Winter and I think that is what caught my eye first but it is also very dark and mysterious if you really look at it. It is a great representation of the mood associated with the record. It is a great mix of classic Soundgarden sounds with heavy and somber moments as well. It is another cover that really fits well with the music and it great to look at and enjoy while listening to the record.



This is really “classic rock” at its best. My parents had 3 or 4 copies of this between them and I even remember this cover from my childhood. It always stuck out to me. How can you go wrong being a boy at 7 or 8 years old and seeing cool guitars that are also spaceships that house an entire city. Super cool. They were more of a “studio band” but this will always be a classic in my book.

The MainePioneer


This is my “weird but I love it” choice. I am a late arrival to The Maine fan club but I thank my girlfriend, Melanie, who introduced me to her favorite band when we started dating and I have loved them ever since. I have always been really intrigued by this cover but it stands as one of my favorites because to me it makes no sense yet at the same time, makes perfect sense. It is hard to explain. It just looks really cool and for some weird reason, fits perfectly with the music. He is like a hipster Santa Clause.

Daft PunkRandom Access Memories


Random Access Memories is the “keep it simple, stupid” cover of the list. It will attract both the new comer who has no idea who Daft Punk is or who “the robots” are and also the veteran Daft Punk fan who are well versed in “the robots.” This cover is perfect for the music because of the opposites attract idea. It is a very simple but very cool cover for a record which is packed full of a variety of sounds. This record is a work of genius in my book and it is one of the coolest covers. Retro.

Stone Temple PilotsStone Temple Pilots


Even though this is not my favorite Stone Temple Pilots album, the cover is definitely my favorite. It has what Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories has: the “keep it simple, stupid” idea. I have always wanted this as a bumper sticker or t-shirt. It is a very cool piece of art and puts a great vibe into the record. Peace.




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The Maine

There are very few artists today that have what you might call a “Do It Yourself” (or DIY) attitude. They may even have it early on but eventually get caught up in the notion that their list of responsibilities on tour decreases because they have people to do that kind of stuff now. Some think their only job is to get on stage, play music, and get off and then when they go to record an album, it is a similar process. This is the point in which bands can get stale and lose focus on why they are really there and they lose the excitement of changing things up every once in a while to surprise their fans. Speaking of fans, this attitude can also affect the way that their fans view them. Going in the same direction and getting more popular can hurt their personal interaction with their fans. Many bands fall into this hole but among them there are specific bands that seem to fight this stereotype and have the creativity and imagination that is needed to avoid succumbing to this notion. One of these bands is called The Maine.

I was introduced to this band pretty far into their career. When my girlfriend and I first met about 3 years ago, she introduced me to The Maine. I will be honest, when I first heard them and started researching them, I was not a big fan. It was a little too pop-punk for me and that is how their first couple albums sounded and they were in that scene at the time but I did like a couple of their early songs. After a while however, they kept growing on me more and more especially when I listened to their albums that came out after their first two including Black & White, Pioneer and Forever Halloween. The big turning point was when I went to see them live my first time with Melanie for the support of the Forever Halloween album in Boston. I loved it. It was just good, catchy rock n roll with poppy songwriting. I started seeing who these 5 guys were and their history. Also, found out that they run their own record label called 8123.

As I started to listen and research more and more about The Maine, I started to understand where their heads were when it comes to their music and where their hearts lie in what type of music that they make. This is where that D.I.Y. mentality kicks in. The Maine have never gotten very big recognition in the mainstream but they have a cult following of fans, including Melanie, who have been with them since the start. Even though they have gained a little more recognition, especially since the release of their second to last record, American Candy, they still hold true to their ideals and their fans. They actually call some of their fans, over the phone, who have pre-ordered their album. Also, after every show, they come out to the main floor and take time out of their day to give a few hugs and take a few pictures with their loving fans. Their fans are the most important people in their lives.

On the other end of the D.I.Y. idea for them is how they tour and how they record. Throughout the recording process they use the same van they have been using since they started out touring way back, which has a bunch of scratches and graffiti on it. They help to build and create their tour sets and help assemble the gear. Especially for their current tour in support of their brand new record, Lovely, Little, Lonely, they constructed most of their sets by themselves using wood and spray painting amp cases for the show while at the same time, rehearsing for the tour. For the recording process, in the past few years, they have chosen specific places to record the album. For example, for Lovely, Little, Lonely, they chose a great house, feet from the coast of California, in a secluded area to record. It was not a fully stocked studio. They brought their own gear and recording materials and made their own studio in the house. They explained that the environment is important because the environment in which they record comes out on the record. They really put themselves to work for their music.

Apart from being a D.I.Y. band, they have always stuck true to themselves. Starting out, as I mentioned above, they were part of this pop-punk scene and that is the way in which the label that they were on was looking for them to go. However, they did not want to continue making records that way. I would assume it would be boring for them. Instead, they decided to put out a record behind the label’s back and make something that they really loved. Considering their background, they are a band that really likes to take risks with sounds and they like to try new things to make themselves better and more interesting but still staying in a pop-rock genre that most of their fans love. No two albums of theirs are the same. They started off pop-punk then went into more of a concrete rock direction, with a little country thrown in, with Pioneer. Later, with Forever Halloween, they became more experimental with “outside-the-box” music and songs with some a little heavier than their usual tunes.

Forever Halloween is my personal favorite in addition to their brand new album, Lovely, Little, Lonely. A little while after Forever Halloween, they came out with American Candy which brought them out of the grungy, dark and experimental feel of Forever Halloween into this much more upbeat and exciting vibe. They explained that the album was a big step in what type of music they wanted to make. It was rock n roll but with poppy song writing that was meaningful and deeper than your average pop-rock. It was catchy and energetic. I believe that the ideas in American Candy and Forever Halloween came together to form the brand new record, Lovely, Little, Lonely. It has the pop-rock, catchy tunes but the song writing is a little darker and the album includes experimental sounds and breaks within the record. One of the members explained that Lovely, Little, Lonely is their most important record to date.

I love The Maine because they seem to always be looking for something better and more interesting. They become more and more mature with every record they make. Their backbone stays the same but the attitude and themes of the records seem to change and that makes them an exciting band to follow. They care deeply about their fans because they understand that without them, they would not be able to do this everyday. They put their time and effort into every aspect of their music, whether it be touring, recording, or releasing. They are also just a really fun band to listen to so I suggest checking out The Maine as soon as you can. If you are a fan of pop-punk, I would start checking out their early stuff and go from there. If you are not so much of a pop-punk fan, I would start with either Pioneer or Forever Halloween and then expand to their more recent and early stuff.

Have fun!






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Top 10 Favorite Albums from Recent Years

Hi all. I wanted to start doing some “Top 10” lists on my blog but I had a really hard time coming up with an appropriate first list so I decided to just do a list of my favorite albums within the last few years. It is basically a list of what I have been into the last few years so I wanted to share that with everyone. Most of these albums are from the last year or two with some ranging all the way back to 2007. I chose this collection because each album has something about it that really grabbed me whether it was the overall sound of the record, the reason or story behind the record, what the record means for the artists, or just what I was into at the time. These are also not necessarily a collection of my favorite artists, just the albums themselves that I love. I would suggest going out and buying or at least listening to anyone of these albums. The following is great music that you should definitely have in your collection, in my opinion. There is no particular ranking on this list. Enjoy!

1. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (2013)


This album is genius. I love everything about it: the physical look of it, the tone of the music and Daft Punk themselves. Before 2013, Daft Punk were known for music based more in House and electronic sounds such as “One More Time” and “Bigger, Better, Faster, Stronger.” They seemed to take some time off for a while and came back with this monster of an album. They went back to their roots with this album by bringing back the disco and funk sounds that they grew up loving and having Nile Rogers from Chic step in on guitar also helps a lot. The album takes you on a journey with every song completely different from the other. This is definitely one of my favorite albums and will continue to be for a very long time.

2. Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color (2015)


Before I discovered Daptone Records, I was going through this period of extreme thirst for some pure, passionate, classic sounds. Throughout this period, I only wanted to listen to older, classic bands and artists, especially from the blues/rock and soul persuasion. Within this period, I came across Alabama Shakes and this album, Sound & Color. The single “Don’t Wanna Fight” was what attracted me the most. The whole album is a trip back in time. It has a very laid back feel through most of it and is very bluesy and soulful. It was the album I was searching for in terms of recent/new music.

3. Black Sabbath – 13 (2013)


The name says it all. Black Sabbath. I have been a Sabbath fan for a long time but was not a big fan of them after Ozzy left the band, way back. In 2013, they reunited with the Oz-man and constructed this monster, 13. It was unlike a lot of albums that are put out by old bands that get back together. This was actually really, REALLY good! It is quintessential Black Sabbath. It has some of the best and heaviest riffs they have ever come up with and the chorus parts are great. Ozzy is clear as day too….which is a surprise at his age. All of this is non-stop through the entire album. I suggest turning this WAY up if you happen to give it a listen.

4. Foo Fighters – Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace (2007)


You could say that this record is a perfect from beginning to end. I would not change anything about it. It is the producing, mastering, and order of songs that make this album perfect, and it has one of my favorite album covers. It has such a nice blend of heavy and soft moments that are timed perfectly throughout the record. Through college, I was a huge Foo Fighters fan, die hard, but after college they seemed to get too big for their own good. There was too much going on from movies, T.V. shows, special performances in the White House, etc. It seemed to become more Dave Grohl & his Band and this all seemed to happen after this record was made. I started to loose my buzz on the Foo Fighters at that point. The music was changing and getting more gimmicky. Even though I don’t pay attention anymore to the Foo Fighters, this album will always be one of my favorites of all time.

5. Charles Bradley – Changes (2016)


The screaming eagle of soul! I was watching a video online one day of someone doing an interview while driving their oldschool VW van and I heard this awesome song in the background. I look down at the comments and people where asking what song that was. It was some guy named Charles Bradley, who I had never heard of before. After some further research, I found that he was on a label called Daptone who specialized in soul and funk of today. I listened to his song “Ain’t It A Sin” and I never looked back. This guy is amazing. Changes specifically has this great feel to it. It is James Brown, reincarnated. He even covers a Black Sabbath song called “Changes.” This is an album that this generation needs to hear if they have any chance of saving what we know as music for the future.

6. Cage the Elephant – Tell Me I’m Pretty (2015)


I have a hard time putting this record into words. I was a late bloomer with Cage the Elephant but started to like their stuff. I came across this album a little while after it was released and I really liked it. The best way to describe it is just simply a great modern/college rock n roll album. Simple as that. If you are looking for some just good modern rock n roll, look no further. It is like Beatles Rubber Soul meets 1960s Rolling Stones. No bull, no out of this world musicianship. Just classic rock n roll with a modern/college rock twist.

7. Ray Lamontagne – Ouroboros (2016)


This record was an impulse buy at a Bullmoose store in Portland, ME. I obviously knew who Ray Lamontagne was but was never a big fan of his music. This just looked very mysterious to me and I had heard that he changed his sound and went electric so I thought I would pick it up. I was so blown away from the sound of this record. My first thought was: Pink Floyd. It has a lot of floyd-isms throughout. A very chill vibe through the record but starts off with some insane guitar riffs and drumming on side A. I was immediately hooked. I don’t know if I will be interested in his earlier stuff but if he keeps making stuff like this, I will be a big fan.

8. Rival Sons – Hollow Bones (2016)


If I can remember clearly, I first heard Rival Sons from a free iTunes download of one of their songs but completely ignored them for a couple of years. Right after their 4th album came out is when I got back into them and I hated myself for not paying attention sooner. Rival Sons is amazing in every way, shape & form. They have everything you want in a rock band: blusey, incredible vocals, fuzzy and heavy guitar, groovy bass, and killer percussion. Hollow Bones, as the band mentioned, is a culmination of their first 4 albums. It is the most complete, straight forward album of theirs with a beginning, middle and end. It is loud, face-melting, pure rock n roll. If you want something that you can crank up and let loose with, listen to Hollow Bones.

9. VINYL Soundtrack (2016)


VINYL was short lived. It only had one season on HBO but they certainly made the best of it. The basic premise surround a major record label in the mid-seventies who, with their complicated leader, are trying to change the face of the label due to the growing lack of true “rock n roll” during the late seventies. The issue with this show was that there were so many references that the younger generation, who may not be into music from that time period, would never understand which would then make the show confusing. For me, I absolutely loved the show because I understood all of those references. The best part about this show was the music that was made and covered to correspond with every episode. A day or two before each episode, a new EP would be released with 4-5 songs which were either originals or covers of older songs and these EPs would have some connection to the episode. This album specifically was a full track list of songs inspired by and used within the show also including covers and original songs, mostly used in the first 2 hour episode. It is a great collection with some great artists. It takes you back in time when you listen, with anyone from Foghat to Otis Redding and from a “cover” of a New York Dolls song featuring their very own singer to an original from the fictional band in the show, Nasty Bits. I was very sad to learn that the show would not continue but it left behind an awesome compilation of music.

10. Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth (2016)


I have never been a big fan of country, except for the classics such as Johnny Cash, so I think I came upon Sturgill Simpson by accident. He immediately struck me as someone very different within the country genre. He has this bluesy, soulful aspect to his music that I really liked and it came out full force on this record. It is surrounded by this great nautical theme, probably inspired by Simpson’s time in the Navy. It is a great mix of of his classic country/americana sound with soulful and funky twists. It also has a great cover of Nirvana’s “In Bloom.” Whether you are a country fan or not, this is just a great album all together.



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Working Labels, Working Bands

Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones & the DapKings, Soul Scratch, The Olympians, Durand Jones & the Indications, Colemine Records and Daptone Records. What do all of these names have in common?…They are single handedly keeping Soul music alive. When you think of soul or funk music, you usually think of the late 1950s to the early 1960s and Funk, probably late 1960s to all of the 1970s. Well, not only do I think of those same time periods but I also think of the 2000s, which sounds crazy but it is the truth. There has been this great and powerful yet generally unknown scene of soul and funk making its way through music lover’s living rooms and man-caves during the past few years and it is finally getting a little more hype.

A few months ago, I discovered this little, unknown record label called Daptone Records. The only reason why I found about about them was turning over a newly acquired album by a man named Charles Bradley. On the back it said Daptone Records so I immediately looked up that name and found something that would alter my music tastes probably forever. I loved the vibe of even just the website. It seemed like I was taking a trip back in time. They had shirts, sweatshirts, slipmats, and even keychains, all with the Daptone Records logo on them. I started looking at all the artists that they support. Once I started listening to some of these artists, I felt like I had found a treasure-trove of real, pure talent and soul. Some of this stuff just made me want to get up and dance. This was going to be my re-introduction to music.

As I researched more about Daptone, something really stood out to me and it really gave me this whole new outlook on what music should be and what music these days is missing. It was this idea of Daptone being a “working” label and supporting “working” artists and bands. Some of these people had very hard upbringings and they really struggled to make it in music and some are still struggling, living paycheck to paycheck. I was watching a documentary on the late, great Sharon Jones and her Dap-Kings, which is the back up band for Jones and also a house band for the label. As Jones was going through an entire year of treatment and chemo, the band could not make money since she was unable to preform or record. The guitarist for the Dap-Kings talked about how he had to sell equipment, furniture, and even had relationship problems with his wife (or girlfriend, check my facts) over money issues. With all of that hardship, the band supported her 100% and continued to play everyday. Another Daptone great, Charles Bradley, didn’t even start recording music professionally until the middle of his life. He ran away for home, worked odd jobs for most of this life and walked across the country. These people have seen a thing or two and really know hardship. This is what makes their music so great.

This idea of a working label with working bands got me thinking of music that is popular today with some being made on a single laptop with limited equipment and it becomes a huge hit. There is no passion or heartache in that music. There is nothing to grab onto or relate to. Artists that work for labels such as Daptone or another great label called Colemine Records, they have put in more hours than there is in a day for their music, they have put sweat and tears into this music. That is what makes it so good and so soulful. As I dive more and more into small labels and more unknown bands, I have come to this realization that the music is just better with artists that have put those sweat and tears into their music. You can hear that they really love and care about their music more than anything and they don’t care how much money they make or fancy cars they have, they are just happy to be able to make music every day and are so grateful for their fans.

In terms of Daptone Records, their headquarters is in an old, beat up duplex in Brooklyn. Their artists, such as Sharon Jones, helped renovate the space. They put their bands to work. They built their own studio. That is a great example of the idea that if you put your own time and your own effort into something, you will work harder for it than you would if it was just given to you. That is the spirit of Daptone Records. This is why Daptone and labels similar to them and their size are so important to pay attention to, because they are filled with bands and artists that have not only sacrificed so much for their music but they have also literally put sweat and hard work into their music and the space in which they make this music. Please take a moment or two and do a little research. Look for those unknown labels and “suggested artists” in your iTunes or Spotify playlists. There are some real gems hidden away and the world needs to hear them.


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