I dig music

It’s been awhile since my last music post and that’s pretty lame considering how highly I regard music in this life of mine. So check these out. Listen to them. Love them. They will nurture your being and make you happier inside.

Slash – Self-titled

I’m a total 80’s child. I grew up listening to Motley Crue, Hair Bands, Metallica, Maiden, G’n’R and more. To me, Slash is a god – one of the best guitar icons to come out of that decade. His cool-as-shit demeanor and signiture guitar riffs always made him stand out – and all of that exudes all over this record.

Guest musicians and vocalist are all over Slash, from Ozzy Osbourne, Iggy Pop, and Lemmy Kilmeister to some contemporaries like Adam Levine (Maroon 5), Andrew Stockdale (Wolfmother), Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge), and…Fergie. But don’t hate – the Fergie sung “Beautiful Dangerous” is one of the best tracks.

Though the M. Shadows led “Nothing to Say” is a throwaway (the singer clearly isn’t capable of anything not found on an Avenged Sevenfold album), most of what’s found here works. Slash is kicking back and enjoying himself without the usual disgruntled, prima donna singers he’s put up with in the past. Here, he’s just having fun and playing the guitar to the best of his ability – and that’s exactly what music is supposed to be about.

Foxy Shazam – Self-titled

Fact: Foxy Shazam is one of the best new bands out today. Insane, energetic, psychotic. Led by the vivacious Eric Sean Nally, Foxy Shazam began as a rough-around-the-edges experimental mindfuck one would expect from Mindless Self Indulgence. Over the course of the following two records (the self-titled is their third) they’ve softened a bit, but more importantly, polished their sound and songwriting.

“There sure are a lot of dogs out this evening! Perhaps they can assist me in a song!” shrieks Nally on the record’s opening. He often blurts out odd non-sequiturs, both on record and on stage. And you just have to laugh. It’s funny in a frightening way. From eating 7 lit cigarettes, singing on the shoulders of his bandmates, and his delusional storytelling of an encounter with that stupid Twilight guy, it’s clear that Nally not only grabs your attention, but demands it.

The new record can be criticized as being poppy, and Foxy Shazam themselves can’t even argue with that. What they still do, and wonderfully, is bring it. The energy is uncharted and idiosyncratic. The lyrics are fantastic, Alex Nauth’s horns are spicy, and keyboardist Sky White plays his instrument while standing on it. Though I’d still recommend Introducing over the new self-titled release, any Foxy is good Foxy.

The xx – Self-titled

The xx hail from Wandsworth, England and their quiet little indie release has me spinning. Though it’s a year old already, it’s slowly been extending its reach to AT&T commercials, Law & Order, and Grey’s Anatomy. Since I don’t watch any of those dreadful shows, this album just recently fell into my hands (Thanks, Steph!).

Though minimal on the surface, The xx’s debut really benefits from repeated listens. It’s quiet, yet extremely layered. It’s indie, but definitely has mass appeal (as it has proven). The lyrics are quite profound and sincere for such a young group – all four members are just 19 years old. If slower indie discs aren’t your thing, check out the Foxy disc instead, but mature ears will benefit from putting in the work. Does that sound too pretentious? Oh, well.

The Aggrolites – Self-titled

An oldie-but-a-goodie – and in this digital age, that means its only four years old. Being a total newbie to The Aggrolites – a reggae band from L.A., I was pleasantly surprised! The Aggrolites boasts some of the best modern reggae I’ve heard of late. Singer Jesse Wagner leads this troup nicely. His voice backs up the attitude, having a classic feel behind a steady beat of steel drums, keys, and walking bass lines. Perfect for a warm, sunny day.

Broken Bells – Self-titled

Let’s start off by saying that I’m not really that big of a Shins fan. Sad, but true. However, this James Mercer/Danger Mouse (billed here by real name Brian Burton) collaboration is fantastic.

Broken Bells simply has more flavor than The Shins. The songs aren’t as sleepy; there’s actual life behind this album. Keyboards, moogs, organs, and more nicely accompany the accoustic and electric guitars played by Mercer. Mercer and Burton call the songs “melodic, but experimental,” and that’s exactly what they are.

One highlight is the Gorillaz-esque “The Ghost Inside”. “Ghost” is reminiscient both musically and vocally; Mercer actually sounds like Damon Albarn at parts! As a whole, a broad range of sounds is utilized on the album, and at no point does this sound like a Shins record with Danger Mouse flair. If an artist is going to step outside of the comfort zone to do a side project, it should be ballsy and worth it.  Broken Bells definitely is.

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