Category Archives: Playlists & Charts

Song of the Week: “Townie” by Mitski

Song of the Week: Mitski / “Townie”

Just discovered this New York singer. I don’t know why I can’t get this song out of my head. I find the video hard to stop watching too. Maybe I’ll try to listen to her entire album if I can get past this song.

Mitski on Bandcamp

Mitski on Twitter

Top 10 Albums of 2005 — Interpol is watching

Last week, I looked back at 30 years ago with the Top Albums of 1985. To continue the trend of the halfway point of each decade, here are the Top Albums of 2005, which was a pretty underrated year in music.

Click on the album titles or covers to hear the album, key tracks or a music video from the album.

Since I’ll be unveiling tons of charts here over time, I figured why not release one each Sunday. Upcoming charts include Top Albums of 1975 (March 21), Top Albums of 1995 (March 28), Top Albums of 1965 (April 4).

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1

Interpol Antics
Possibly my favorite album of the 2000s when all is said and done — so that’s saying a lot. Most people consider Interpol’s first album Turn on the Bright Lights as their classic, but as much as I also like that one, this one is a notch above for five songs alone. In fact this entire album is greatness for the songs “Lengths of Love,” “Not Even Jail,” “Slow Hands,” “Evil” and “C’mere.” Listen to all of those songs many times in headphones with no other distractions. The album itself says it best: “Makes me want to pick up my guitar, and celebrate the myriad ways that I love you.” And I don’t even play guitar!

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2

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah 
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Another album that will go down as a classic of the 2000s for many reasons. Among them the way it was independently released and picked up steam by word of mouth. People have tried to compare this album to other things, but you really can’t. From Alec Ounsworth’s distinct voice, convoluted Stipe-ian lyrics, and interesting circus-like melodies, it’s an album that feels like a greatest hits for hipsters. In the good way, of course.

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3

Giant Drag Hearts and Unicorns
Annie Hardy, the woman who is basically Giant Drag, might be the single weirdest person I’ve ever talked to, and her music is definitely not for everyone. But 10 years later I still love the weirdness of this album, which somehow is still melodic. Too bad Hardy hasn’t yet been able to do something like this since then.

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4

The Go! Team Thunder, Lightning Strike
Admittedly, this is one of the most unexpected albums to appear on any of my top albums charts. It’s like part cheerleader chant, part funky R&B and all fun. I have been told this has to be listed in the “guilty pleasure” category because it’s so campy. While that may be true, all I know is this album loud on the headphones is the best for mowing the lawn in the middle of July. And that’s saying something in the Arizona heat.

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5

The New Pornographers Twin Cinema
One of another great album from The New Pornographers, one of the top five bands of the 21st century. “Twin Cinema” is one of the classic openers of the last 15 years, and the band still plays a lot of these songs live. It’s not my favorite New Pornographers album — that would be 2003’s Electric Version — but this is almost as good.

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6

Doves Some Cities
Doves had a nice run of albums in the mid-2000s, and this is one of them.  Again, like the New Pornographers, this album isn’t as good as the one before it (in this case 2002’s The Last Broadcast), but it’s still great in its own right. “Black and White Town” still gets me moving. (And no, I don’t mean to the dancefloor.)

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7

Fiona Apple Extraordinary Machine
When it comes to genius album percentage, Fiona Apple is nearly batting 1.000% and that’s saying something. Extraordinary Machine, her third album, seemed like it took forever after 1999’s masterpiece “When the Pawn…” but in reality it was only six years. It was definitely worth the wait, however. It also gave me my first exposure to Zach Galifanakis in the genius video for

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8

Supergrass Road to Rouen
This by the far the most different album in the catalog of the great Supergrass. It’s also their first album that needs a few listens to fully appreciate. But you can definitely hear musical maturity after all those years of youthful energy.

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9

The Soundtrack of Our Lives Origin Volume 1
One of my favorite live bands of the 2000s delivered another rocking album in 2005. These Swedish guys never gave us Origin Volume 2, but that’s OK because this one is good enough. Too bad most people in America only know them from wrestling since “Big Time” is the theme song for one of the shows. (I’m glad I don’t know which one!)

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10

The Magic Numbers The Magic Numbers
These guys look a little rougher than the sweet music they produced. There are two men and two women in the group. I know they’re either married or related or divorced or just really good friends. I’m not really sure all these years later. But this album still stands up as worthy enough to just make the chart.

Honorable mention

  • Belle & Sebastian Push Barman to Open Old Wounds
  • Coldplay X&Y
  • The Dandy Warhols Odditorium or Warlords of Mars
  • Franz Ferdinand You Could Have It So Much Better
  • Fruit Bats Spelled In Bones
  • Gorillaz Demon Days
  • Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings Naturally
  • LCD Soundsystem LCD Soundsystem
  • My Morning Jacket Z
  • Sleater-Kinney The Woods

Top 10 Albums of 1985 — Show the Love

by Jason Stone


There has been a lot of 1985 nostalgia lately, with the 30th anniversary of the midway point of that crazy decade, the ’80s.

Since I’m going to be ranking all my favorite albums for every year in the Beatles chart era (1964 to now), why not start by taking a look back at 1985. All in all, 1985 was not a great year in music, but all of these albums have strong memories for me.

To listen to any of these albums, just click on the album cover.

Top 10 Albums of 1985

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1

Love & Rockets Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven
I never heard this album actually in 1985. But it now tops my list. It became a favorite later in high school and still remains my favorite album by Love and Rockets, a band whose first three albums are all classic. The Northampton, England, three-piece formed out of the ashes of Bauhaus, but I always liked them better in the Love and Rockets formation. I am a sucker for psychedelic music with pop hooks, and that’s how I feel about that album. Plus, the album closer, “Saudade,” is one of my favorite instrumentals ever.

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2

R.E.M. Fables of the Reconstruction
R.E.M. in the 1980s was an embarrassment of riches, where even their worst album of the decade was still the second best of the year. The band itself doesn’t even seem to love this one, which was apparently recorded in miserable conditions in London during the winter. But to me, that’s what makes the mood of Fables so damn good. I love moody music, and while R.E.M. always had moods going, they never made a sound like this again.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QTL8gYdc8M

3

The Smiths Meat is Murder
Let’s face it, The Smiths were one of the top five bands of the 80s — on a short list that includes R.E.M. and U2. Much like the R.E.M. album, Meat is Murder is probably my least favorite Smiths album, yet it’s still my third favorite of the year. While that does speak poorly of 1985, it still says a lot about Morrissey, Marr and Co. Plus, two of their best songs are on here: “The Headmaster Ritual” and “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore.”

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4

Howard Jones Dream into Action
As always, this chart is open to change over time, as it has over the last 30 years. For instance, Howard JonesDream Into Action was my favorite album during the actual year 1985, so that’s why it’s still high on my list. Even though it’s not really my musical taste anymore, I really loved this album at the time and always thought it deserved more recognition beyond a few hit singles. He is also very underrated live.

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5

The Church Heyday
The Church put out as many consistent albums in the 1980s as any band I liked. This was the beginning of them starting to get notice in the U.S. Of course, I didn’t hear this until a few years later. But really nothing they did in the ’80s was bad, in my opinion. I thought maybe these guys would get more recognition as time passed, but apparently they’re destined for “one-hit wonder” status in the U.S. — and that’s too bad.

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6

The Waterboys This is the Sea
The Waterboys were still more or less a rock band during this time, but that would quickly end for the release of the next album (one of my favorites of 1987 … whenever I get to that list!). I dare you to listen to “The Whole of the Moon” and not have that stuck in your head all night.

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7

The Cure The Head on the Door
I’ve seen this album a little overrated in recent years, and I’m not sure where that came from since it really didn’t set the world on fire at the time. But that’s the way these things go. Either way, this is The Cure finally finding some commercial footing in the U.S. At least it’s the first time I heard of them. But what junior high kid in the 80s didn’t know about the Cure?

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8

Prince Around the World in a Day
First of all, “Pop Life” is one of my favorite singles of the 1980s, and I really don’t even know why. I just like the whole psychedelic feel, set to a pop song. I mean, it has “pop” in the title. It’s even about cocaine, so it has drugs! I know this album has some haters, but I’ve always enjoyed it. “Raspberry Beret” is also a guilty pleasure.

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9

Tears for Fears Songs from the Big Chair
This one took me a while to come around to. When it was first released, I was convinced the only good songs on it had to be the singles; therefore, why bother getting the album. The problem is those hits were really good, even if you had to hear them a million times. But I actually ended up liking The Seeds of Love and The Hurting more. Go figure.

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10

INXS Listen Like Thieves
The beginning of INXS’ monster era of hits and worldwide fame. When you look back on it, all INXS albums in the 1980s are solid, even if some of the production on the early ones sounds a little dated. I would say this is the beginning of the “timeless” INXS albums, however. Really happy I got to see them live in their prime.

Honorable mention

  • Dire Straits Brothers in Arms
  • Husker Du New Day Rising
  • Lone Justice Lone Justice
  • Sting Dream of the Blue Turtles
  • Thompson Twins Here’s to Future Days

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Top 10 Albums of 2015…So Far

by Jason Stone

Here are the Top Albums of 2015, so far.
We’ve had the first big change of the year. With the release of Courtney Barnett’s first proper album, it has shot to the top of my chart for the year. This album is outstanding. It’s nice expectations were met. They were high!
Click on the album cover or title to hear some music samples from each album.

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1

Courtney Barnett Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit
Is it possible a Courtney Barnett album could be my favorite two years in a row? There is a lot of year left in 2015, but it’s going to be another great album to top this one. It’s probably a good thing her voice is a little “too Australian” for some people because maybe that will keep her off American radio and keep her pure! We can only hope, right?

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2

The Amazing Picture You
Maybe it’s because their sound is so throwback to 40 years ago, but it’s hard to believe this is only their third album. It was easily my most anticipated new release of 2015 so far, and it is exactly what I was hoping for and expecting. I think Pitchfork summed it up best in its review when it wrote: “The Amazing’s previous album was called Gentle Stream and very much earned that title; this one is more like a lazy river.”

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3

Father John Misty I Love You, Honeybear
There is no doubt this will be the best lyrical album of the year — maybe the decade. Even the song titles are classic. Check out this gem from “The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apartment”: “She says, like literally, music is the air she breathes. And the malaprops make me want to fucking scream. I wonder if she even knows what that word means. Well, it’s literally not that.” It’s actually hard to believe this guy was actually in the Fleet Foxes now that we know better.

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4

The Decemberists What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
My only gripe about The Decemberists over the years is some of their records are chores to get through because they can get intense with all the instrumentation and description of historic characters you never wanted to know about. But this album is a complete joy to listen to from start to finish. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one ends the year high on the list.

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5

The Dodos Invalid
The sixth album from his Bay Area duo has all the good elements of bands like Grizzly Bear, just maybe not as weird. This is an album that gets better with more listens, so it’s hard to judge it the first time through. We’ll see if it has staying power this year.

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6

Panda Bear Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper
Early front-runner for top album right out of the gate, only because it was the first release I played over and over again to start the year. Panda Bear is not for all moods, obviously. I’m not sure I want to see this performed live, however. I think listening loud on the headphones at home is good enough. Which reminds me, get headphones for this one.

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7

Sleater-Kinney No Cities to Love
I always wondered why Sleater-Kinney were in such a hurry and why they always seemed to be yelling about something. Somewhere along the way, I must have figured it out. Can’t wait to see them live in April.

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8

Belle & Sebastian Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance
A change of pace dance album after some lovey-dovey releases. It doesn’t hit as emotionally as most great B&S albums, but it’s still a great listen if only because “Perfect Couples” and “The Party Line” are hard to get out of your head. You know, once you realize you actually like the songs after initially dismissing them as 80s-throwback crap.

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9

Peace Happy People
I have already highlighted “World Pleasure” off this band’s second album as a Song of the Week. It’s a fun listen all the way through — in all its 80s/90s Brit glory. Some of it does feel a little forced, down to the contrived album cover and videos. But I’ll give them a break and say pass the Peace pipe.

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10

Elle King Love Stuff
You gotta love a woman who is 25, looks 35 and sounds 45. That’s about what you get with Elle King. I hear a lot of comparisons made with Amy Winehouse and Jack White, but she seems to be doing her own thing. Check out “Ex’s and Oh’s.” It’s irresistible. (Interesting fact: She’s the daughter of Rob Schneider! Making..music!)

Honorable mention

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My First 5K Playlist

by Jason Stone

Many of you have asked what my playlist was for my first 5K last week.
Here is the running order with comments and links to hear them. It’s not for everyone. But this was actually artfully crafted by me for it’s length, it’s order and it’s meaning.
The total time is 30 minutes. The first two songs totaled 11 minutes so I knew after two songs I was at least more than a third done. The goal was to reach the finish line as “Born to Run” was playing so I knew that meant I beat 30 minutes. I finished across the line just as the song started! What a feeling!
(Feel free to leave comments for anything you liked if you listen. I love to turn people on to new music!)

1. Grown Ocean • Fleet Foxes

This was chosen because the song represents a new day to me. I see a sun just rising when I hear it and the first touch of feeling heat. It was a great way to get me going. The “ohhhhh oh” parts at 2:25 and 3:52 just gives me warm fuzzies!

2. The Suburbs • Arcade Fire

Just a beautiful song that gets better the more you hear it. The video for the song is a Spike Jonez film about these kids bored in the suburbs. I was running near a neighborhood by a school. Seemed fitting. That rolling piano kept me going at a steady pace.

3. Ladyflash • The Go! Team

I always have to defend this song. Not one person I have ever played it for has liked it and has told me to list it as a “guilty pleasure” if anybody asks because it sucks. Sorry, I disagree. Makes me feel great and I think I will always have at least one Go! Team song on all my races!

4. C’mere • Interpol

Just love the imagery of “two lovers walk a lakeside mile.” Isn’t the trouble always that the one you want is “in love with someone else.” The video even has runners in snow! Great live band!

5. Up the Dosage • Paul Weller

I just love Paul Weller. This is a rolling rocker from what I think was the best CD of 2010, “Wake Up the Nation” Honestly, I was so locked in I don’t even remember hearing this during the race. Weird.

6. Catch the Sun • Doves

Just perfect. Sun hit me in the face during this song and how can a song this happy not make you feel good!

7. Born to Run • Bruce Springsteen

Maybe the single best rock song in history. It’s debatable. Put no doubt the best song I could have picked to finish my first race to!