Spotify, or How I Get Through the Day

/ Music /

I’ve been a bit of a slacker when it has come to writing for the blog lately. I’ve been using the excuse that my wrist hurts (which it did to the point that I wore a brace for a few days), but, really, I’ve just been lazy. There, I said it. I’m lazy. I feel better now.

Not that it matters too much. I mean, it’s not like the tens of readers each month will really notice the lag. :)

Anyways, I wanted to call attention to a fairly recent piece of software that I have absolutely fallen in love with. That software being Spotify. If you’ve been living under a rock, maybe you haven’t heard about Spotify, the new social music software. Basically, for free, you can stream craploads of music to your computer and, unlike Pandora and other services, you can actually just search for the artist, song, or album and I think that is simply amazing.

Now, not all artists have agreed to let Spotify play their music (notably The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd), but I still find the service to be completely phenomenal. I really enjoy being able to listen to the entire catalog of some of my favorite artists like Rush, The Who, or The Rolling Stones, or discover music from other bands like Yes, Faces, or The Guess Who.

As you may have guessed, I’m a huge classic rock fan. I’ve listened to The Doors, The Rolling Stones, Rush, and Yes a lot. I’ve also listened to Thin Lizzy, Small Faces, Faces, The Guess Who, April Wine, The Who, David Bowie, The Byrds, The Yardbirds, Journey, Styx, Peter Frampton, Cheap Trick, and a slew of other great bands. It’s been awesome. Work days have literally never gone by so fast.

Oh, and if you must know, I listened to Humble Pie, a fantastic live band featuring legendary guitarist Steve Marriott, while writing this article.

The Best of The Beatles

/ Music /

Rolling Stone magazine recently released their list of the “Top Ten Beatles Songs of All Time.” As an avid Beatles fan, I was very interested to see what they had chosen and thought I should share. Here is Rolling Stone’s top 10:

  1. A Day in the Life
  2. I Want to Hold Your Hand
  3. Strawberry Fields Forever
  4. Yesterday
  5. In My Life
  6. Something
  7. Hey Jude
  8. Let It Be
  9. Come Together
  10. While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Needless to say, these are all great songs. Each of them is legendary in its own way. However, I’m not sure that these songs are necessarily the “best” of the Beatles’ vast library. Perhaps I would agree that they are the most influential or the most inspirational or even the most important songs written by the Fab Four, but I don’t think they are most enjoyable, at least not for me.

Now that’s not to say that I wouldn’t rank some of these in my own “Top Ten Beatles Songs of All Time” list, but Rolling Stone’s list as a whole doesn’t seem quite satisfactory if for no other reason, than because they don’t explain what they mean by “best,” which, in the case of musical preferences, is usually subjective (at least, not on the web site).

I do know a few things about the Beatles, but I won’t claim to be an expert. I’m sure that Rolling Stone was able to factor in how the songs impacted history, what the songs meant for the band’s development, how well the songs sold, and so forth. Since I can’t claim to know those things, I’m keeping my list simple. Here are the Beatles songs that I enjoy the most, based on my own inferior knowledge and my personal tastes:

  1. Let It Be
  2. Dear Prudence
  3. I’ve Got a Feeling
  4. In My Life
  5. Don’t Let Me Down
  6. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  7. Paperback Writer
  8. Happiness is a Warm Gun
  9. Hey Bulldog
  10. Something

Wow, that was really difficult. I’m sure that I didn’t give it enough consideration, but this list pretty accurately describes the songs I find the greatest desire to crank up when I hear them. There are several others that I had a really hard time not putting on the list including Eleanor Rigby, Getting Better, Day Tripper, and No Reply just to name a few.

I’m a little disappointed that I have almost no early songs (which I enjoy, but not as much as the later stuff) and I have nothing from Revolver or Sgt Pepper (which are both great albums). Perhaps I should make a list of my top 20, just to make myself feel better, but that’s for another time.

According to Rolling Stone’s the web site, they have actually ranked the top 100 in a new collector’s issue of the magazine available at Barnes and Noble. I think I’m going to try to pick this up.

RUSH!

/ Music /

Yesterday, my brother and I made the journey to Syracuse, New York to see the legendary progressive rock band Rush at the New York State Fair. Rush is my brother’s favorite band and they are my favorite band that still tours, so when they announced their 2010 Time Machine tour, buying tickets was a no-brainer. Usually, Rush comes to Buffalo whenever they tour, but this year they opted for Syracuse instead and we had to make the two hour drive; it was totally worth it.

This is the third time we have seen Rush and they have put on a fantastic show every time. There are certain songs that you are guaranteed to hear at every show, but Rush always mixes up their shows to some degree. This year, they played the entire Moving Pictures alum straight through. That was really cool. They also played the two singles that they have already released from their forthcoming album, Caravan and BU2B.

Part of me wants to say that this was the best Rush concert that I’ve seen, but it’s really hard to say. These guys are excellent musicians and they are really consistent from year to year. I can say that it was definitely the loudest show. 24 hours after the show ended, I’m still hearing a high pitched noise in my left ear.

As usual, Rush really did a great job with everything, but I think I enjoyed Freewill, YYZ, and La Villa the best. Those are just some great songs and they really rocked them out. It was the first time I had seen them perform Freewill as well and that was really cool.

Another thing that was surprisingly enjoyable was the little intro video that they played before the band came out. The tour had kind of a steampunk theme going on and they played this video that showed Rush in a alternate universe as a three piece polka band playing in a deli. One of the characters in the deli was the inventor of a device that could convert music into other styles, which meant that we got to hear disco and county versions of The Spirit of Radio before Rush finally took the stage and rocked it out.

Overall, Thursday was a great day. My brother and I took the day off, hit up Dinosaur BBQ for an early dinner, and enjoyed a fantastic rock concert. I can’t ask for much better than that.

Listmania: Favorite Bands

/ Music /

I like making lists. I make lists for all kinds of things: groceries, books that I would like to read, stuff I need to do around the house, stuff I need to do at work. I could go on, but I’ll digress for the sake of sanity. I make lists to keep myself organized, but sometimes when I’m bored, I make lists of things that I like such as my favorite bands, movies, TV shows, etc. It keeps me entertained while I’m mowing the lawn or driving home from work.

Well, with all of these lists just floating around in my head, I think it is time to document them. I’m starting with an easy one: favorite bands.

  1. The Beatles – The entire first floor of my house is Beatles themed. I don’t quite own all of there studio albums, but I’m pretty close. I’m not sure I could ever pick a favorite album or song, but I do really love Hey Bulldog and Dear Prudence.
  2. Led Zeppelin – These guys just plain rock. I have all of their studio albums, The Song Remains the Same dvd, and that other dvd they released in like 2003 that doesn’t have a name (the one that is really awesome).
  3. Rush – These guys are truly amazing musicians. I really love their stuff from the 70s and their first couple albums from the 80s. Not a huge fan of the rest of their stuff until the last few albums, which are decent, but definitely not my favorites. I’ll be seeing them for the 3rd time in September!
  4. The WhoTommy and Who’s Next are two of the finest rock albums ever in my opinion. I so wish I could have seen them live in their glory days.
  5. The Rolling Stones – I don’t think any of their work is among my favorites, but the sheer magnitude of good, solid music makes them a band I never get tired of hearing.
Notable contenders (in no particular order): Yes, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the Allman Brothers, Cream, AC/DC, Jimi Hendrix, and Pink Floyd.