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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

 

Featured Image from: http://harmanradio.com/studio-locations/retro-microphone-on-stage/

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

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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

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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

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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.!

 

Rush2112

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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

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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

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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.

BostonBoston

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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

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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

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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

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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.

 

 

 

Feature Image from: https://www.reference.com/science/dimensions-record-album-cover-4ca5947698d6f713

 

 

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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.

 

 

Title image from: http://clean-conception.com/music/how-vinyl-records-are-made