Favorite Albums of 2016

There were some pretty good albums released in 2016. Here are my favorites for the year.

keith-urban-ripcord-album1

Keith Urban – Ripcord
With each album, Keith Urban seems to move further and further from the country sound. Ripcord is no exception and infuses EDM with banjos and synth beats. There’s even  a collaboration with Pitbull on the track “Sun Don’t Let Me Down.” It may not be traditional country but it’s still a fun, upbeat pop-country album that’s perfect for listening to when driving around town on a sunny day.
Songs to download: Wasted Time; John Couger, John Deere & John 3:16; Habit of You; The Fighter; Break on Me and Blue Ain’t Your Color.

 

7960f327

Gwen Stefani – This is What the Truth Feels Like
The third solo studio album from No Doubt’s lead singer, This is What the Truth Feels Like is inspired by the break-up of her marriage to Gavin Rossdale. Heartbreak usually results in great music and Gwen delivers with a more personal album than her previous efforts. There are a couple of really bad tracks near the middle but for the most part a solid album that I’ve been listening to on repeat ever since it’s release in March.
Songs to Download: Misery; Make Me Like You; Truth; Used to Love You; Send Me a Picture; Me Without You

 

71d-gzf-rxl-_sl1500_
Lacey Sturm – Life Screams
The first solo album from Flyleaf’s former lead singer  continues in the same style as her previous three albums with the band. Life Screams roars positively and loudly with lyrics of hope  screamed and sung over crunchy rock guitars and string arrangements. Worth the wait and should please any Flyleaf fan who preferred her style over their current lead singer.
Songs to Download: Impossible; The Soldier; Rot; You Are Not Alone; Life Screams

fitz-and-the-tantrums-self-titled-album-hand-cover-640x640
Fitz and the Tantrums – Self Titled
I wasn’t sure that I liked this one the first time I heard it all the way through but some albums just have to grow on you. It’s a little slicker and a little more produced than their previous two efforts but every Fitz and the Tantrums album is different and that’s partially what makes them a great band. This self-titled CD has an 80s pop vibe that’s full of earworms. Check them out live sometime.
Songs to Download: Handclap; Complicated; Burn it Down; Get Right Back

 

kingsofleon-walls-album-2016
Kings of Leon – Walls
Back in 2008, you could not escape Kings of Leon. Use Somebody” was on the radio ALL THE TIME. They were a huge sensation over night although they’d been releasing music for years before mainstream caught on. Then the lead singer had alcohol problems, some birds pooped on a crowd of fans and the band released a couple of dud albums no one really liked. Then Walls happened. I resisted it at first because I figured it was terrible like the last two but after reading several glowing reviews, decided to listen and was pleasantly surprised. Not as good as Only By the Night but definitely a stand out album of 2016.
Songs to download: Waste a Moment; Reverend; Around the World; Find Me; Walls

 

miranda-lambert-the-weight-of-these-wings-1479148261
Miranda Lambert – The Weight of These Wings
Miranda Lambert has always seemed to make the kind of music she wants to make yet still manages to have commercial success and is one of the few women country radio will actually play. This double album comes after a much public divorce from Blake Shelton and is filled with personal and emotional songs about heartbreak, healing and moving on. There really isn’t a bad song and that’s saying a lot for a double album with twenty-four songs.
Songs to download: Vice; Highway Vagabond; Use My Heart; Tin Man; Keeper of the Flame; Six Degrees of Separation 

 

rs_600x600-161007043155-600-bruno-mars-24k-magic-2-10716_2
Bruno Mars – 24K Magic
It’s been four years since Bruno Mars released an album of new music. Four years! It doesn’t seem that long because of the success of Uptown Funk and his memorable Super Bowl half-time performance but Bruno is back once again with his funky, throwback style. There are only nine songs on this album but it’s definitely quality stuff. IMO, Bruno is the Michael Jackson of our day.
Songs to download: 24K Magic; Chunky; Versace on the Floor; That’s What I Like

 

mm_hero_rgb
Maren Morris – Hero
The BEST album of 2016. Like many country albums today, Hero blurs the line between country and pop but there are throwbacks to classic country on this one as well. It’s brilliant, catchy and the songs are full of great hooks that will have you humming them all day long.
Songs to download: My Church, Sugar, I Could Use a Love Song, 80s Mercedes, Drunk Girls Don’t Cry

 

 

Concert List

 I’ve been going to live concerts since before I can remember. My parents took me along to Bluegrass and Irish festivals almost before I could say the word “music”  and going to live shows has sort of become a part of who I am.

I decided it’s probably a good idea to write down a list of every performer that I’ve seen (or can remember seeing). The only performers I didn’t list are from the Grand Ole Opry, which I’ve been to multiple times and can’t remember who all I’ve seen!

So here is my list of concerts

  • Hanson33 shows. This Time Around Tour 2000 (Louisville), Underneath Tour 2004 (Nashville & Louisville), Live & Electric Tour 2005 (Cincinnati & Bloomington), The Walk Tour 2007 (Chicago, Louisville, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Bloomington), The Walk Around the World Tour 2008 (Milwaukee, Louisville), Members Only Fan Club Concert 2009 (Tulsa), Use Your Soul Tour 2009 (St. Louis, Indianapolis, Detroit), Shout it Out Tour 2010 (Louisville), Musical Ride Tour 2011 (New Orleans), WZPL Jingle Jam (Indianapolis),  Members Only Fan Club Concert 2012 (Tulsa – two shows), Uncorked Festival 2013 (St. Louis), Anthem Tour 2013 (Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toronto), Roots and Rock and Roll Tour 2015 (Chicago – two shows), Members Only Fan Club Concert 2017 (Tulsa), Middle of Everywhere Tour 2017 (Nashville, Chicago), Members Only Concert MOE Tour 2017 (Chicago), String Theory (Washington D.C.), Indiana State Fair
  • M2M 
  • Ingram Hill – 4 shows
  • Locksley – 3 shows
  • HelloGoodbye
  • Steel Train
  • Sherwood
  • Rooney
  • Kate Voegele
  • Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers – 6 shows. 
  • Butch Walker – 2 shows
  • Matchbox Twenty
  • Phillip Phillips
  • The Veronicas
  • Keith Urban – 4 shows
  • Little Big Town
  • Kelly Clarkson – 5 shows
  • Maroon 5
  • Taylor Swift
  • Ed Sheran
  • Evanescence
  • Chevelle – 2 shows
  • Three Days Grace – three shows
  • Finger 11
  • Kenny Chesney
  • Gary Allen
  • LeAnn Rimes
  • Bryan White
  • Lila McCaan
  • Lori Morgan
  • Pam Tillis
  • Carlene Carter
  • Clay Aiken
  • Ben Jelen
  • Incubus
  • New Kids on the Block
  • No Doubt
  • Linkin Park
  • Kings of Leon
  • POD
  • Flyleaf – 2 shows
  • The Wreckers
  • Tyler Hilton
  • Jessica Harp
  • Alison Krauss
  • Great Big Sea – 4 shows
  • Cowboy Mouth – 5 shows
  • Blue October
  • Shinedown
  • Alter Bridge
  • Halestorm
  • Breaking Benjamin – two shows
  • Disturbed
  • Fuel
  • Staind – three shows
  • 3 Doors Down – two shows
  • Phil Vasser
  • Montgomery Gentry
  • Jewel
  • Gavin DeGraw
  • Joss Stone
  • The Fray
  • Thousand Foot Krutch
  • Creed
  • 12 Stones
  • Nickelback
  • Trapt
  • The Wilkinsons
  • Relient K
  • Audio Adrenaline
  • Jars of Clay
  • Stephen Curtis Chapman
  • Jennifer Knapp
  • LaRue
  • Michael W. Smith
  • Out of Eden
  • Amy Grant
  • Vince Gill
  • Point of Grace
  • Jaci Velasquez
  • Ryan Cabrera – 2 shows
  • Bonnie McKee
  • Flogging Molly
  • Paramore
  • Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
  • Sum 41
  • Meg & Dia
  • Lifehouse
  • Goo Goo Dolls
  • Colbie Caillat
  • Garth Brooks
  • Pam Tillis
  • Lorrie Morgan
  • Bon Jovi
  • Daughtry
  • Megan McCauley
  • Seether
  • Godsmack
  • Papa Roach
  • Hinder
  • Buckcherry
  • Motion City Soundrack
  • FUN
  • Avril Lavigne
  • Martina McBride
  • Lady Antebellum
  • Collin Raye
  • Loretta Lynn
  • Bill Monroe
  • Ricky Skaggs
  • Rachael Yamagata
  • Blessid Union of Souls
  • The Verve Pipe
  • Pat Green
  • Fitz and the Tantrums
  • Big Data
  • The Rolling Stones
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Dixie Chicks
  • The Beach Boys
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
  • Michelle Branch
  • Garth Brooks
  • Billy Joel
  • The Eagles
  • Fleetwood Mac
  • Niall Horan
  • Maren Morris
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Paul McCartney
  • p!nk
  • Kelsea Ballerini

Music Review: Nickelback – No Fixed Address

20141001154751!No_Fixed_Address_Cover_-_Nickelback_Album

 

Nickelback – No Fixed Address

Nickelback ruled the airwaves in the late 90s and early 00s, but this is 2014 and bands that were once rock radio staples have found that times have changed.  The rock format has moved away from the more grungy sound of  the 90s and many stations have re-branded themselves as “Alt-Rock”, dropping any sort of traditional sounding rock band from their playlist and switching instead to artists like Lorde, Mumford and Sons and The Black Keys. Sure, you’ll still hear Foo Fighters and Linkin Park, but for the most part, rock in the traditional sense is dead. Which makes trying to stay current, yet keeping your signature sound challenging for once heavily played rock artists like Nickelback, Staind, or Disturbed. Unfortunately for Chad Kroeger and his band mates, this is not the album to bring rock back from the dead.

No Fixed Address sounds pretty much like every other Nickelback album that’s been released in the last decade. The lead single, “What Are You Waiting For?” is this year’s version of  their 2005 mega hit “Photograph.”  There are still songs about drinking, sex, and strippers. Basically, not much has changed although Flo Rida makes a surprising, but failed attempt to bring a little hip hop to bro-rock on “Got Me Runnin’ Round.”

The guys try to write a few love songs here and there, but with lyrics like “We can eat our favorite food/We can have an amazing mood/Baby I just wanna be with you/Forever and ever until we die in heaven”, they should probably stick to rowdy white boy tunes. Out of the eleven tracks on the disc, only one really stands out as a potential hit: the ultra-catchy “She Keeps Me Up.”

Let’s be honest – Nickelback was never a great band. Did they release some catchy songs? Sure. Did they get played too much on the radio? Definitely. Are they known for life changing lyrics? No. But love ’em or hate ’em, you have to at least give them a little credit for writing their own songs and playing their own instruments. If you’re a die hard Nickelback fan, you’ll probably love this album but if you were just a casual listener during their heyday, don’t bother giving the album a listen because it’s nothing you haven’t heard before.

Favorite Albums of All Time, Pt. 1

I love music and I like to think I have a pretty wide variety of genres that I listen to.  If you scroll through some of the artists on my iPod, you’ll find everything from The Beatles, Eminem, Metallica and New Kids on the Block to Flogging Molly, Garth Brooks and Mumford and Sons.

I’m not a music expert or critic by any means, but if a song or artist makes me feel something – if I can connect to the words or music in the song in a certain way, then to me, that’s what makes great music. It’s not so much about slick production or perfect vocals, but about what makes me feel some sort of emotion. Some songs bring tears to my eyes, others make me feel happy. Some remind me of where I’ve been at in life and others just make me want to dance and have fun.

Since music means so much to me,  I decided to post a list of some of my favorite albums of all time. It’s probably going to be pretty long and since new albums come out every day, this will definitely be an ongoing project. Most of these albums won’t make the critics lists but that doesn’t bother me.  To me, they don’t need a critic’s seal of approval – I think they’re great and that’s all that matters.

Ready? Here’s the first 10 on my list (side note: these are in no particular order – I would probably have a very hard time ranking them in any sort of order):

jp

Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill

Alanis put to music all the angst-filled emotions of a woman scorned and millions thanked her for it. She said what all of us have wanted to say to the jerks in our lives and she rocked hard while doing it.

Favorite Songs: You Oughta Know, Right Through You, All I Really Want


fly

The Dixie Chicks – Fly

Natalie Maines and company brought a little pop, bluegrass and folk to country radio and paved the way for today’s country-pop crossover superstars. It’s very rare that you will find an album where every song is good, but this is one of them.

Favorite Songs: Cowboy Take Me Away, Let Him Fly, Without You


hw

Hanson – The Walk

Inspired by a trip to an African orphanage, Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson crafted an album full of uplifting tunes and messages of hope. Most people only know them as the trio that gave us “Mmmbop” back in 1997, but this is the album that proves the band’s artistry and musicianship.

Favorite Songs: Great Divide, Been There Before, Tearing it Down, Watch Over Me 


fallen

Fallen – Evanescence

Rock and roll never sounded so pretty. Amy Lee and her band Evanescence stormed on to the mainstream music scene in a huge way back in 2002. Her gorgeous opera-esque vocals set to piano driven goth-rock earned the band a Best New Artist Grammy and 17 million albums sold world-wide. But when your debut album exceeds perfection, there’s really no place to go from there but down. Two follow-up albums later, the band is still making excellent music, but nothing will ever top Fallen.

Favorite Songs:  Going Under, Whisper, My Immortal, Imaginary 


joc

Jars of Clay – Jars of Clay

Christian music doesn’t normally cross-over to mainstream pop, but Jars of Clay’s song Flood became one of the biggest crossover hits EVER for a Christian artist. Their first album was their best – mixing an acoustic, organic rock sound with deeply spiritual lyrics. Nothing else they’ve released since then has sounded quite like this gem.

Favorite songs: Love Song for a Savior, Flood, Boy on a String, Liquid


mj

Bad – Michael Jackson

When something that was put out over 25 years ago still sounds catchy and current, it definitely deserves a spot on my list. Not to mention the five #1 songs the album produced – the first time that had ever happened in music history. Bad contains some of the best and most infections pop songs to date. Love him or hate him, there’s no denying Michael Jackson was and always will be the “King of Pop.”

Favorite Songs: The Way You Make Me Feel, Man in the Mirror, Smooth Criminal


ros

No Doubt – Return of Saturn

Gwen Stefani is the ultimate cool chick. She’s not the best singer around, but her voice is clearly recognizable and sometimes that’s all you need. Return of Saturn, the follow-up to the über successful Tragic Kingdom, didn’t leave my CD player for months.  Even now, 12 years later, I can still relate to some of the lyrics – maybe even more so than I did at the age of 17.

Favorite Songs: Simple Kind of Life, New, Ex-Girlfriend, Artificial Sweetener


mo

The Moffatts – Submodalities

Canada’s answer to Hanson, the Moffatts, went a decidedly darker direction on their second album and enlisted Metallica producer Bob Rock to give it some edge. The result? Anthematic, fist-pumping rock songs you want to crank in your car and sing along to at the top of your lungs. It’s a shame no one in America really knew who these guys were because they put out some pretty awesome tunes in the late 90s/early 2000s.

Favorite Songs: Bang, Bang, Boom, Typical, I Don’t Want You to Want Me


Print

Adele – 21

The unbelievable voice. The emotion in the songs. The fact that your heart breaks over and over for this girl each and every time you hear Someone Like You.  Most of us have been there at some point in our lives too and that’s why so many people identify with Adele’s music. This is the album you listen to before you hit the Alanis stage. The first time I listened to 21, it moved me to tears and still does two years later.

Favorite Songs: Rolling in the Deep, Turning Tables, He Won’t Go, Someone Like You


sixers

Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers – Self Titled

Part country, part rock and roll, SK6ERS never really hit it big. Chances are you’ve never heard of them, but they’ve put out some of the best Americana rock of the past decade. The songs, mostly penned by Stephen Kellogg himself, are lyric driven and usually autobiographical. Energetic and upbeat – perfect for listening to on a sunny day driving around town.

Favorite Songs: Anthem of Our Discovery, My Sweet Charade, Star the Day Early, Vegas, You’ve Changed