Tag Archives: U2

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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REVIEW: The Killers – Battle Born

Autumn is usually a time when I’m O.D.-ing on apple and pumpkin flavored food and drink.  The leaves change color, the temperatures drop and all the long sleeves and long pants come trundling out of the closet.  This year it’s also a time of absolute new music bliss.  In the coming months, my ears — and your eyes — will be inundated with enough new material to expand my Top 10 of 2012 into a bloated Top 20 list that nobody will read.  The first huge release of the season that has my panties in knots is from The Killers.

Battle Born, their 4th proper LP, sees the two personalities of The Killers combine in the most perfect vision yet.  On one hand, we have the glammy, synth-heavy and melodically flashy — your Hot Fuss and Day & Age.  On the other hand, we have the Springsteen fever dream of Sam’s Town.  For the megafan (err, mega “victim”), you can toss in B.Flo’s solo album, Flamingo, which reveals a lot more about who really wears the pants in the band.  Day & Age stumbled a bit, even though it’s one of my favorite Killers records.  It was a little too schmaltzy cheese.  Too much “Wayne Newton and Sigfried and Roy” Vegas, not enough of the desert paranoia and cowboy badassery.  But anything is better than Sam’s Town, which I will go on record as saying it is their Pinkerton: a shitty subpar album that purist fans say they like just because it makes them seem that much better than the casual fan who only knows “Mr. Brightside.”  If you want to know where I stand — if you’re still even reading this — my ranking of Brandon Flowers and His Killers output is as follows:

1. Hot Fuss – undisputed best.  An earnest, passionate, paranoid whirlwind that plays like a greatest hits record.

2. Flamingo – anthems, heart, ballads and some really creative arrangements.

3. Day & Age – a few gems, a couple skips.  Too cornball to be classic.

4. Sam’s Town – a couple of giant anthems, a whole lot of eye-rolling and groaning from yours truly.

5. Sawdust – haha.  right.

So where does Battle Born stand?  Let me jump the gun (Editor’s note: I’m contemplating calling my reviews “Jumping The Gun” instead…) and say Battle Born just entered the charts at #2 (sorry, Sam’s Town and Sawdust… alliteration!).  There’s not a bad song on here.  By bad, I mean skippable.  Surely there are a few minor groans and grumbles, but honestly, I like every track on this disc.  Let’s go through them, shall we?

1. Flesh and Boneblip-bloop-bleep — you’ve now been downloaded into a cowboy version of TRON.  This is the theme for the record, as told to me by Brandon Flowers in a dream I had of him last night (Seriously, we’re like brothers… he’s only a week older than me!  What have I done with my life…. D:)  Fan fantasies aside, this song is huge.  A suitable intro to the coming journey through the 80s synthesizer desert where the Killers live when they aren’t touring.

2. Runaways – sadly this song was not as huge as it should have been.  There’s just no place for it on radio these days, as most rock stations have been sold or shut down.  Light and uplifting, it is a gorgeous piece of storytelling with an absolute rocket-ship of an ending that nearly sent me through my flatscreen tv when I was rocking out the other day.  Side note:  B.Flo hits his Springsteen apex on this line: “Like a stum-bull-ing ghost I HAWWWWNT these HAWWWLLS!”  The Boss would be proud of the copy-cattery.

3. The Way It Was – a lovely mid-tempo rocker with great syncopated lyric delivery and soaring harmonies.  Nothing to cream over, but still good.

4. Here With Me –  whaaaaaaaaaaaaat???????  A BALLAD?!?!?  Indeed!  And my favorite track on this album.  Comrade Tim thinks it sounds like Anne Murray.  Bah!  I reject that statement.  Schmaltzy, yes.  Uncomfortably similar to an 80s power ballad?  Yeah.  But oh what a chorus.  What emotion.  What genuine heart.  I can’t think of a prior Killers song that could be defined as a ballad, so this is big stuff.  On first listen, I might have shed a tear or two.  It just hit me.  I fucking love this song.  Love lost, hearts broken, lighters thrust into the air.

5. A Matter of Time – for you Sam’s Town goons out there, this is by far the most Sam’s Town-y song of the batch.  Lots of manly “whoa-oh-oh”s and hefty drumming.  But what makes it better than that Sam’s Town mess is the songwriting and the melody, two things that they forgot about on that sophomore effort.  Urgent, driving, manly.  Grrrrr.

6. Deadlines and Commitments – bless their 80s fixation.  This throbs like some cold synth-pop shit.  Falsettos happen.  Basslines twang.  I quietly dance at the side of the room in my Depeche Mode shirt.

7. Miss Atomic Bomb – this has grown on me the most.  At first, I dismissed it as U2-light.  Something about the Edge-esque guitar work, the pomposity and — holy Irish Christ — B.Flo’s vocals at the end (paging Bono!).  But this chorus has driven itself into my heart.  Huge.  Coldplay-arena-size HUGE.  Wait for the emotional explosion at the concert.

8. The Rising Tide – starts off like a J-Pop synth-blitz, but then in come the guitars and we’re back in the American West.  Verrrry twangy.  The incessantly repetitive synth-line that continues throughout the entire song transports me back to cowboy Tron land.  Combine the drive of “A Matter of Time” with the tech-melody of “Deadlines…” and you have this track.

9. Heart of a Girl – wow, slow it down.  Let the cigarette hang off your lip.  Milk that tumbler of rye whiskey.  Gaze at the stars.  This slow burn gem builds and builds until a glorious gospel explosion at the end, when all the pieces come together and the light shines forth.

1o. From Here On Out – paging Springsteen.  My toddler self is Courtney Cox-ing like CRAZY to this long lost Born in the USA b-side that never was.

11. Be Still – another slow 80s inspired ballad (you’ll know it as soon as that beat kicks in).  Delicate and pretty like “Goodnight, Travel Well” and “Everything Will Be Alright.”  One of my favorites on the album.  (Could also double as a great Cultural Revolution-era Communist anthem with lyrics like “Rise up like the sun/ Labor til the work is done”)

12. Battle Born – instead of closing with a quiet whimper on “Be Still” (like Hot Fuss and Day & Age did, mind you), we get another singalong anthem.  Proud and unapologetic.  We’ve got some 80s hair metal riffage here, some grand man harmonies and enough guitar solo-ing to make Bon Jovi and Def Leppard proud.  A great end to a solid album.

Bonus tracks: depending on what version you got, you likely now own a couple remixes (I’m never a fan) and a few future b-sides.  “Carry Me Home” is another Cowboy Tron track and “Prize Fighter” reminds of a lame Sam’s Town throwaway, a little too Springsteen.  Gripes aside, The Killers never disappoint with bonus tracks, so these remain welcome extras.

 

Verdict:  A little Achtung Baby.  A little Songs of Faith and Devotion.  A little Sweet Dreams.  A shit-ton of Springsteen. (if I ran the College Board, this question would be on the SAT verbal — “MUSE:QUEEN :: THE KILLERS: ?”  yeah, Bruce Springsteen.  Congrats you’re going to college.)   I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed a Killers record through and through since 2004 (2004?!????!!!!!).  Well worth it.

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In The Name Of Love

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

If you’re lucky, you have the day off (if the universe hates you, you’re at work today).  While we’re still in our pajamas, drinking a giant cup of coffee, telling ourselves we’ll be productive (really) today, take a minute to remember why we’re blessed with a long weekend.  I shant get preachy, high-horsey or otherwise soap-box-esque.  I’ll let the master of emphatic dramatization of over-earnest declarations handle it.

*Cue Bono and the U2s*

This song — “Pride (In The Name Of Love)” — inspired by MLK, was released in 1984 for the band’s fourth album (and first with more than one word in the title): The Unforgettable Fire.

I’m only just learning (thanks Wikipedia) that most critics, and even Bono, were not too pleased with the lyrics to this classic anthem.  I never noticed how bad the lyrics were until I just went to look them up and read them carefully (Editor’s note: “eesh!”); I had been too busy standing on rooftops, feeling good, and screaming this song to the universe, as if I were St. Bono himself, for the past 28 years.

Enjoy your day and take a second to love, respect and/or appreciate your fellow man.

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