Tag Archives: Tori Amos

2014 Year In Review

Hey, we haven’t updated this blog in over a year!  It was a busy year.  A good year.  Especially for the ears.

Without further ado, here’s my year in review.  Let’s see if the other ILTSOI dudes can step up too…

Nothing can stop us now.

FAVORITE 14 OF ’14

1. Tove Lo Queen of the Clouds

An absolutely perfect album from start to finish.  Catchy, melodic Swedish pop at its finest.

2. Sam Smith In The Lonely Hour

The lush soundtrack to heartbreak and unrequited love, with a voice so smooth you want to wrap yourself up on the sofa and pass out with a smile on your face (and tears drying on your cheeks).

3. Tori AmosUnrepentant Geraldines

Return to form (groan) for my favorite singer of all time.

4. Taylor Swift1989

Can’t deny the pop perfection.  The love might wane with time, but there’s no denying this beast of an album.

5. Alt-J This Is All Yours

You thought their debut was funky and mind-blowing?  Add a million more layers and a tighter control on the soundcraft.  A lush journey into funky town.

6. InterpolEl Pintor

The second “return to form” (repeated groan) on this list.  Tight, melodic, groovy.  Everything that self-titled shitfest was not.

7. Run The JewelsRTJ2

Very rarely do I hear a song and exclaim, “Fuuuuuuuuuck!!!”  This is an entire album of that.  The lyrics wow, the melodies are delicious, and everything is just hard as fuck.  And Zach de la Rocha.

8. RoyksoppThe Inevitable End

A perfect way for them to go out: darkness, groove and a continued roster of perfectly curated guest singers.

9. Lana Del ReyUltraviolence

Not as good as her debut, but the throwback lushness saves this from sophomore slump status.  A time machine.

10. War On DrugsLost In The Dream

This is #1 on most of the year end lists, and with good reason.  It’s a propulsive, immediate and absolutely dreamy journey through soundscapes.  Dylan, Springsteen, Arcade Fire.  It’s all here.

11. Kaiser ChiefsEducation, Education, Education, War

One of my favorite bands.  They’ve only disappointed me once in 4 albums.  They won’t win any awards, but consistently releasing start-to-finish pogo-pop-rock perfect albums contribute to their long-lasting place in my heart.

12. Coldplay Ghost Stories

Their worst, hands down. But it’s not that bad.  I’ve grown to enjoy this more than when they released it in the summer.  Because it’s NOT a summer album.  It’s cold, sad, lonely, introspective.  Casual fans will love the Parachutesness of it all.  I appreciate that it’s a peek into Chris Martin’s ruined heart.  Take this break, come back with another life-affirming opus.  *hugz*

13. Pharrell WilliamsG I R L

Skateboard P is actually pretty underrated: he’s been producing amazing bangers for over a decade, and yet he’s just blown up in these past 2 years (thank you Daft Punk and The Voice).  This is just another release of Pharrell gems.  Get the throwback party started.

14. Crosses – †††

Deftones will never release anything “classic” now that Chi Cheng passed away (just like — less morbidly — Interpol will never release anything of top caliber without Carlos D), but this Chino side project comes close.  It’s sexy, groovy, relatively calm.  Chino’s voice can still send shivers down a spine like no other.

Albums I listened to to-death that weren’t released this year: Bastille, Clutch, Katy Perry, Avicii, Avatar, Fitz and the Tantrums

Albums that kinda let me down: U2, Beck, Black Keys

 

FAVORITE SONGS OF 2014

As always, this is based purely on play count on my iTunes.  I may have listened to them in other places (see: ipod, burned CD) but this is a fair indicator of my earworms of the year.

1. Lorde – “Yellow Flicker Beat”

2. Coldplay – “Magic”

3. Pharrell and Daft Punk – “Gust of Wind”

4. Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora – “Black Widow”

5. Goldroom – “Embrace”

6. Ariana Grande and Zedd – “Break Free”

7. BANKS – “This Is What It Feels Like”

8. Interpol – “Tidal Wave”

9. Royksopp and Robyn – “Monument (The Inevitable End Version)”

10. Tori Amos – “Trouble’s Lament”

 

GIGS OF 2014

1. Avicii – TD Garden – June 25
An absolute party from start to finish.

2. Tori Amos – Boston Opera House – August 15
First full Toriphile experience for me: waited all day with a group of fans/new friends for a glimpse of Tori, then drinks, then a perfect setlist.  If we actually got to talk to her, it would have been the most perfect day of 2014.

3. Arcade Fire – Xfinity Center – August 19
Nice to see them in a huge amphitheater.  Their sound and presence needs all that space.

4. Clutch – Lupo’s – September 5
Rocked. The. Fuck. Out.

5. Lady Gaga – TD Garden – June 30
Finally.  Happy birthday to me.

6. OneRepublic – Blue Hills Bank Pavilion – June 24
All hits, all the time.

7. Nine Inch Nails (with Soundgarden) – Red Rocks – July 21
My all-time bucket list venue.  My all-time favorite band.  Maybe I’ve seen Trent too much lately.  Maybe my mind wasn’t in the right place.  An otherworldly experience.

8. Jimmy Eat World – Lupo’s – October 18
Futures isn’t my favorite Jimmy album (see: Bleed American) but hearing it start to finish was something else.  Finally got “Nothingwrong” and life is good.

9. Katy Perry – TD Garden – August 1
Much like OneRepublic, this was just an unfair barrage of hits that would make any artist blush.  What a party.

10. Cibo Matto – The Sinclair – February 8
A comeback tour, a new album, old friends.  But when you don’t play “Sci-Fi Wasabi” as you originally wrote it, this nagging fan loses a little interest.

11. Iggy Azalea (and Austin Mahone) – Gillette Stadium – June 15
Free.  Yeah nothing beats that.

 

It was a good year.  Hopefully another year doesn’t pass without an update…  Make it a good one!

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Playlist: Summer Fun//Back To School

Summer sure flew by, didn’t it?  As those languid days bled into each other and stifling heat and humidity gave way to cooler climes, my song consumption also cooled down a bit.  It happens every year: summer is full of bangers, then autumn hits and I’m back to my comfort zone of moody atmospherics, darker content and more introspective experiences.

From the heights of summer fun to its final gasps, let me just track my musical diet so we can move on with autumn and get ready for the final year end blow-out best of’s for this insanely overwhelming and generous year of music.

My song of the summer (Sorry “Get Lucky” and suck it “Blurred Lines”)

 

JULY TOP 10 (as always, by order of playcount)

1. Naughty Boy featuring Sam Smith – “Lalala”
This is one of those magical tracks that drops into your life and changes it forever (melodramaaaaaa….)  But seriously this is such a gorgeously lush dance track with crazy angelic vocals from my new favorite soul-singing white boy.  Get on it if you haven’t heard yet!!!  Seriously, just watch the video NOW.

2. Guy Sebastian featuring Lupe Fiasco – “Battle Scars”
This is an older track that my sister just discovered this summer.  Soaring choruses swapped with rapped verses.  Usually I cherry-pick the choruses and spend the rap verses groaning and rolling my eyes (see: anything with Gym Class Heroes), but this is equally moving and passionate.

3. Disclosure featuring Sam Smith – “Latch”
The second “La-“/Sam Smith song on the list, “Latch” is a hypnotizing dose of ’90s club music set to Smith’s delicious croon-shrieking (boy got range!)  This was huge over the summer, get to catching up if you haven’t heard it yet.

4. Austin Mahone -“What About Love”
This new pop idol looks like the next Bieber but this song is about 110% N’Sync, circa Celebrity.  He even says “Bye bye bye.”  A done deal.

5. The Bullitts featuring Tori Amos – “Wait Until Tomorrow”
This is some movie/music project by the Bullitts.  Of course I am onboard for Tori, but the rest of the soundtrack album is killer.  Features a whole bunch of people (from Lucy Liu and Rosario Dawson to Mos Def).  Also likely to be the only dubstep track featuring Tori.

6. Britney Spears – “Ooh La La”
Did you know there was a Smurfs 2?  Yeah, wtf, right?  This is from that soundtrack.  A classic Britney banger.  Kept our July fresh.

7. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – “Can’t Hold Us”
Some songs are just designed to get you hyped.  This is one of them.  You know it; you’re likely sick of it already.

8. Armin Van Buuren featuring Trevor Guthrie – “This is What It Feels Like”
Pure unadulterated house-techno joy-fest.  Throw them hands up and be happy you’re alive.

9. Mel C featuring Matt Cardle – “Loving You”
I’ll always love my favorite Spice.  Sporty’s solo stuff has always been the best, mostly because she’s the best vocalist from the Spice Force 5.  Paired here with UK X-Factor dreamboy, it’s a power ballad in the vein of James Morrisson/Nelly Furtado “Broken Strings.”

10. Sebastian Ingrosso and Tommy Trash featuring John Martin – “Reload”
Holy shit, there are a lot of “featuring xyz”s on this list, eh?  The summer of the feature, ha!  Genres don’t exist anymore, everyone likes everything.  Alas.  Anyway, here we are, with the 3rd year in a row that John Martin has benefited from his friendship with Ingrosso (2011 had “Save the World” and 2012 had “Don’t Worry Child”, both with Swedish House Mafia).  What a party.

Favorite Album of July:  
Disclosure: Settle — a continuous dance mix straight from 1991, packed with current UK vocal up-and-comers.  Groovy.

AUGUST TOP 10

July bled into August and the above 10 continued to gain spins (holy shit, all that pop and EDM!?!  Isn’t this a fucking rock blog???).  Here are the new additions to the eternal summer playlist.

1. Lady Gaga – “Applause”
If you know me, you know the build-up to this release was a little bit important for me.  After Daft Punk and NIN (ok fine and Arcade Fire), my most anticipated comeback-single-drop was Gaga’s.  I was not disappointed and this song did not stop playing for days.  Holy shit.  She does not disappoint.

2. Zeds Dead – “By Your Side”
Sludgy, chilled-out pseudo-dubstep from the current EDM wave, but I love it because of that angelic female vocal and its kinda-trip-hoppy feel.  This is more my pace.  You can keep your violent drops and molly, thank you!

3. Nine Inch Nails – “Copy of a”
The album is perfect, Trent’s best since 1999’s Fragile.  This is the opening song of the new album, Hesitation Marks, and the 2nd single.  I must say, it makes 1st single (and 2nd song on the album) “Came Back Haunted” a better song.  Jittery, driving and ferocious, but without all that violence and rage of early-day Trent.  Just delicious.

4. Avicii featuring Aloe Blacc – “Wake Me Up”
You’ve all heard it.  It’s on the radio every 5 seconds.  For a brief moment in August, it was still fresh and exhilarating.  It’s still good, but it’s almost played out.  Alas, thank you Avicii for pumping out another life-affirming earworm.

5. David Bowie – “Let’s Dance” (InFiction String Remix)
This soundtracks a car commercial.  And it is amazing.  “Let’s Dance” is one of my favorite Bowie tracks (up in the Top 3 with “China Girl” and “Suffragette City”) and this is one of the few remixes that I love (I’m usually not a fan of remixes).  It’s got that creepy X-Files vibe, some sci-fi M83-type shit.  Once the vocals kick in, it’s just a blast.

6. Depeche Mode – “Should Be Higher”
Off their latest, Delta Machine, this is a slinky sultry nugget that thumps along like a mysterious cloaked version of “Personal Jesus” or anything off Playing the Angel.  After all these decades, they still can make me dance and grind.  So sexy it hurts.

7. Michael Buble – “It’s A Beautiful Day”
I was in Europe for a wedding.  This song was out.  It was a perfect marriage (ha!) in terms of soundtracking a particular moment in time.  he cranks out perfect smile-makers and this one is one of his best.  All hail Buble.

8. Chthonic – “Set Fire To The Island”
The best black metal band from Taiwan has released one of the few black/death metal songs that I can listen to on repeat.  Usually stuff like this is reserved for particularly bad days when I want to smash everything.  It’s pummeling, it’s loud, it’s gorgeous.  Why?  The chorus is drenched with classical Chinese opera instrumentation and operatic vocals.  A fantastic combination.

9. Austra – “What We Done?”
On their sophomore album, Austra have beefed up with atmospherics.  Whereas their debut was a freaky trip through dark creepy tunnel, this one feels more open, more expansive and a lot more lively.  It’s still creepy, but the beats hit harder.  Rather than bobbing our heads in a dimly-lit corner of the room, we’re now dancing on a dimly-lit dancefloor.

10. Katy Perry – “Roar”
This took me some time to get into.  It’s so boring and plain.  Where’s the fun?  But after a while, that overly positive, go-get-em girl! attitude really wore me done.  I like it now, ok ok.  It’s only a matter of weeks before it’s on Glee.

Favorite album of August:
KT TunstallInvisible Empire//Crescent Moon
First half is about her dead dad; second half is about her divorce.  So you know this is going to be a cheerful record.  It’s her most stripped-down yet, almost acoustic in its instrumentation.  It’s also very pretty.  I love the delicacy of it, but my friend said it was “sad music.”  Sure.  But it’s good sad music.  Less lush than Beck’s Sea Change, but maybe in the same spirit.  She has yet to disappoint me.

See you in a month, when the list gets inevitably darker, heavier and moodier.  Fear not, pop-phobes ;P

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Give Me Life, Give Me Pain

Give me myself again.*

Today, one of ’90s alt-rock’s most seminal albums (and one of my lifetime favorite Desert Island Discs) turns twenty: Little Earthquakes, by my favorite polarizing ginger, Tori Amos.

Twenty years ago, I was in 5th grade.  I was still listening to Weird Al, Kris Kross and Boyz II Men.  Mariah Carey was my #1 gal.  MJ’s “Black or White” was the #1 song in the country (U2’s “Mysterious Ways” was #1 on the rock charts).  Nirvana were still riding Nevermind to the bank.  I had no time (or emotional maturity) for this kind of shit.  I had suffered through years of piano lessons; I would not suffer it on my Walkman.

It wasn’t until a couple years later when she released her second album, Under The Pink, and the lead single “God” — her highest-charting hit and best music video (filmed at the rat temple in India) — that I was roped in.  It was 1994.  Darker urges and melodrama were seething below my pubescent skin.  A little band called Nine Inch Nails was about to change my world.  I was ready to join Club Angst.

Snatching up her entire discography to-date — singles, bootlegs and EPs included — I dove head-first into the back catalog, starting with her debut album.   Some melodrama is expected with all Tori Amos fans, so let me just get this out of the way: the first time I heard “Precious Things,” I started to cry.  Sitting in my bedroom, head resting on my new compact disc stereo (kids, “compact discs” are what we used to call CDs), I let the opening piano riffs and shallow panting soak into my ears.  I had never heard this kind of passion, fury or intensity coming from a woman (or a piano) before.  I had never been so emotionally moved by a song.  I had never reacted so physically to music before.  By the time the song swelled to its final crescendo and came crashing down, I was breathless and my cheeks were wet.  What the hell just happened?!?

The rest of the album is equally untouchable.   Though not my personal favorite in her discography (see: Under The Pink, Boys for Pele, and From The Choirgirl Hotel), I cannot deny that it is her best.  Uncomfortably candid and personal, touching and heart-breaking.  This is why debut efforts are usually classics: they are the cumulative effort of the artist’s entire life up until that point, including the pain, misery and confusion that come with growing up.  Their big unveiling to the world.  Their mission statement.

There isn’t a skippable song on here (save for the disturbing, yet necessary, account of her rape, “Me And A Gun,” which I still cannot listen to).  Empowerment anthems “Crucify” and “Girl.” The heart-wrenching familial loss on “Winter.”  Radio-staple “Silent All These Years.”  Kinky “Leather.”  The weepy “China.”  Even the b-sides were stunning (including the best cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” you’ll ever hear and a take on Zep’s “Thank You” that bests the original).  I was hooked for life.  I felt like she was opening a door — for me and me alone — into her soul.  Through a crappy set of speakers on the outdated shag carpeting of my bedroom floor, we forged a lifelong relationship.

When I met her in 2003 (*faint*) I asked her to autograph the lyrics of “Tear In Your Hand,” which contain the line “If you need me, me and Neil will be hanging out with the dream king/Neil said hi, by the way” (this refers to her BFF Neil Gaiman, but a crazed fan can pretend).  Every time I hear this song (or any of the other Neil-referencing songs in her catalog), I glibly smile.  I’ve grown up with this woman and, even though she has no idea who I am or what I’ve gone through in life, she’s shared her pain with me for 20 years and counting.  When I reflect back on the past two decades, she’s one of the few constants.  This album started it all.

Minutes Before Fainting...

*Lyrics from title track, “Little Earthquakes,” the final track of the album.

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