Top-5 Albums Day Two

Today David and I continue our post on our top five favorite albums…

DAVID:

Blue October – “History For Sale”

This one is for the dark, sultry and moody among us. A great poetic record with plenty of songs to appeal to the “other” side of the psyche. The players on this CD are Jeremy Furstenfeld (drums, percussion), Ryan Delahoussaye (violin/viola, mandolin, and piano, backing vocals), Matt Noveskey (bass guitar, backing vocals), C.B. Hudson, guitar and Justin Furstenfeld (lead vocals, guitar.) Justin, a former addict, shares his troubled past in his music he writes. The honesty he pours into his songs is refreshing and shocking at the same time. Deep is the connection the audience has with the musicians in this band and the songs they produce, with a live show among the best I have ever seen. I go every time they play anywhere near me. Everyone in the audience sings along with every song. Crazy, dedicated fans have kept this band touring for the last couple of decades. This record is my favorite because of that depth and connection I have to it, like an old friend who knows you better than anyone ever could.

“Ugly Side,” the first track, is about showing your best face to the person you love while hiding the ugly side. “I only want you to see, my favorite part of me and not my ugly side.”

The second song, “Clumsy Card House,” was one of the first Blue October songs I ever heard and I was instantly enamored with this band. The song begins with a beautiful acoustic guitar part and flowing vocal. “By your side I’ll stay…forever.” I had to hear more. “And all the kids would play a sunless day, the rain would come, the rain always brings out heroes, believe in heroes.”

“Razorblade,” is a tough, edgy song, a possible clue to Justin’s troubled past. I’m not sure if this song is autobiographical or a work of fiction but it contains a set of lyrics that jumps out and punches you in the face. “Uncle you spared not your children and while your praying hands were up, there’s no forgiveness for you, you sick F#&K.” This record just keeps getting better from there.

“Calling you,” this song hit number 35 on the Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks chart. It was included on the American Wedding soundtrack and gained a resurgence of popularity and radio play. “I will keep calling you to see, if your sleeping are you dreaming if your dreaming are you dreaming of me, I can’t believe you actually picked me.”

“Chameleon boy,” is a song I always seemed to be attached to on a deep level and a piece that has always kind of haunted me but in a wonderful way. It’s a quiet, brooding beauty. “Stand by for another break down / sound off the alarm, It’s the Chameleon boy I swore I wouldn’t become.” It is about drug addiction and in a past concert, Justin dedicates it to all the friends he has lost due to overdoses.

“Sexual Power Trip (one big lie,)” has some amazing lines lyrically. It’s a faster jam for the band, a bit harder as Jeremy really kills the drums and especially the cymbals. It’s a rocker about sex and the complications of having a relationship when you’re strung out. “I’m sorry for the way I treated you. / I’m stuck in my ways to just run, / In the opposite way when things get comfortable. / I’ll keep on licking till your flavor is gone but it’s getting more impossible to keep a straight face and be trusted with I love you.”

“A Quiet Mind,” such a great song, I love the first verse. “A slow strangle with your feet on the floor / I’ve got 14 angles and were sleeping alone in the back of a cave / where the rest of us go to feel normal.” So cool into the chorus, “You give me a quiet mind / and I, I love you.”

“Inner Glow,” An inspiring song about finding what it is you love and doing it. Creating your own thing, write your own song. My favorite line in the song is toward the middle, “So here’s a preview / shove it under old new / or call it rock or pop or Bach or F*#k / God damn where did we go wrong / Now there’s a category for every song.”

“Somebody,” such a nasty guitar riff, every time this song starts I know that I won’t skip this number and it doesn’t disappoint. In concert, Justin said that he wrote this after his record company dumped the band. It’s a wonderfully dirty little number, tune in and turn on!

“Come in Closer,” what a beauty! It’s the kind of song that takes you to another world. It’s like a dream that you don’t want to wake up from. “Come dancing with devils / need not know there name / but we’ll waltz like an army / for the fear of our pain / and our souls become useless / as the day they were born / and the rusted arm rocking chair away from your storm / but still the truth remains lethal / a lie made by man / when my shoes become hammers / and my words become sand / I’m like a sour patch a wedding batch of roses you threw across my floor / and the rusted arm rocking chair / away from your storm.” So powerful, with a great female vocal part by Zayra Avarez. The song is about the innocents of youth, the lure of temptation and the pain that comes with the loss of trust from an affair. This CD is a real find, if it’s not your cup of tea I assure you, at least one of your friends will be converted.

MICHAEL:

INXS – “KICK”

Let me preface this one by saying that INXS is my favorite band. And by favorite I mean if you looked on my iPhone you would see nothing but INXS record after INXS record after INXS record and nothing else. KICK for me, is an album where every song is a hit. Practically every song was a hit in America and the band was an MTV favorite so it wasn’t difficult for me to discover the band in my youth. There was something about their pop-rock presence that caught my attention and kept it. Michael Hutchen’s singing and stage presence was captivating and the band’s unique musical style set them apart from other bands in that genre. Jon Farris’s drumming also stood out to me and to this day he remains one of the most original drummers of that period. With songs like “Devil Inside” and “What You Need” the album produced hit after hit.

For me, KICK is an album that you can listen to many times over and never get bored of it. I regret that I was never able to see the band live. I do appreciate that they made one of the greatest live/video albums (LIVE BABY LIVE) where we can see many of these songs performed. Here are four of my favorites from that album:

“New Sensation,” One of the things that I love about INXS music is how clean it is. Each instrument is recorded equally and none overpowers the other. “New Sensation” is a great example of this. Hutchen’s opening lyric of “Live Baby Live” is one of the best of any song in my opinion. The guitar and drums on this song especially complement each other. Jon Farris’ roto toms have a neat echo effect on them in the intro. Kirk Pengilly’s sax solo is the star of this song.

“Never Tear Us Apart,” One of the best ballads ever recorded. Written in the tempo of a modern Viennese waltz, this song builds in intensity as it goes on. It is layered with synthesizers and containing dramatic pauses before the instrumental breaks. The lyrics for this song are exceptionally poignant and Hutchen’s delivery of them is almost eerie. I particularity like the use of the ride cymbal in this song. Nothing fancy. Just tasteful. The video for this song is exceptional too. I believe it was filmed in Prague. After his death in 1997, Hutchen’s coffin was carried out of St. Andrews Cathedral as the song was played in the background.

“Guns in The Sky,” One of their best songs live, this is obviously a political song aimed at nuclear war capabilities. At the time it was recorded in 1987 this was still a hot button topic. The lyrics are strong and condemn those who make war: Well I’m sick of it / It’s a load of shit / We could stop the world / And let off all the fools / And let them go live / With their guns in the sky

“Mediate,” Following “Need You Tonight” this one is more of a walking poem than a song. You may remember the video that pays homage to Bob Dylan as the members flip cue cards with words from the song on them. “Hallucinate – Dessegregate – Mediate – Alleviate – Try not to hate…” are part of a political statement that touches on a variety of topics to include racism and nuclear war. (Watch here)

KICK is filled with appropriate drumming for each song and Jon Farris remains in my top-three favorite drummers. I’ve been known to break out the roto-toms from time to time because of him. If you like pop-rock this is a must have.

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