Special Countdown 15 to 500 – Day 15: This is our 500th post!!! Of all the albums released in 2014 that were not yet featured here on Lunch To The Sound, I can’t think of any that are as significant as Leonard Cohen’s Popular Problems. Forty-seven years after his debut album, this amazing songwriter, poet, and musician continues to produce excellent quality music that sounds as fresh as when he first started. His voice may be crackling, but the lyrics are meaningful, the sounds are involving, and the rhythms are soothing. I still kick myself when I think that it took me so long to get to know this artist; but now that I do, I can’t get enough of his work. Listening to Popular Problems was the perfect way to celebrate 500 albums reviewed on Lunch To The Sound. Here’s to 500 more and a wonderful 2015!
Special Countdown 15 to 500 – Day 14: Legendary Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant’s first album in four years is absolutely great. This is Plant at his best–from the involving lyrics to the unique atmosphere of sound that puzzled me at first–each song seems to use different instruments and even rhythms, and they all share a common thread of calmness, resignation, and brilliance. While I think I enjoyed Band of Joy more than this album, I have to say that Lullaby is certainly up there with the best of Plant’s works. And this makes me smile because it gives me hope that he has not decided to retire yet. Tomorrow (December 31) we will celebrate the 500th album reviewed here on Lunch To The Sound, bringing 2014 to a close on a high note… come back to check it out!
Special Countdown 15 to 500 – Day 13: Eric Clapton and some other big names of Blues Rock and similar genres are together celebrating the life and work of Oklahoma-native J.J. Cale. As one would expect, the songs are well played. But there are a few special gems in here: Mark Knopfler and Willie Nelson, in my mind, are the ones who shine in this album by making the songs their own. While this is not an incredibly great album, it is a solid one worthy of Cale’s legacy.
Special Countdown 15 to 500 – Day 12: I had to listen to Ariana Grande’s latest album because my daughter is a big fan and her songs are always playing in our house. The follow-up to Yours Truly is not as good as her debut, but it still packs a few very good songs. I think Ariana sounds best when she is singing slowly… that’s when you can really tell that she has a great voice. Her duets tend to be over-the-top and involve genres that seem not to be a good fit for her. If you’re a fan, you’ll love this album. If you like good female vocals that can reach very high notes (à la Mariah Carey), you’ll also enjoy it for the handful of slow and nicely produced songs.
Special Countdown 15 to 500 – Day 11: Now we’re talking! Heavy Metal giants Judas Priest have returned with an excellent album that draws on elements of their early years but also contains hints of more modern Metal. This one sounds very different from Nostradamus, their previous work–one that I really enjoyed, both on CD and seeing them perform it live here in Oklahoma. In Redeemer of Souls, the guitars are fierce, the drums are heavy, and the vocals are spot on. In sum, a top notch record by a top notch band.
Special Countdown 15 to 500 – Day 10: In the (now a) tradition of Metallica’s S&M and Neil Young’s Storytone, here is George Michael’s Symphonica–a beautiful album with renditions of some of his best known songs (and some not-so-well-known) that fit so well with this style. This was the perfect album to listen to today; I had a very strong headache and this helped me relax and simply enjoy his great voice and very nice arrangements. He was able to transform these Pop songs into Jazz-like Easy Listening that made some of them sound very different from the originals. Nice work!
Special Countdown 15 to 500 – Day 9: I was really looking forward to this day. Yes, it’s Christmas; but it was also the day when I got to listen to Lucinda Williams’ new album. I love her music, and this record did not let me down. This dual-disc work is full of great songs that are melodic, slow, emotional, and very nicely played. This is one of the albums where Lucinda has gotten closer to Country, but that was not a bad thing in this case. While I prefer her Blues/Folk Rock style, her voice, guitars, and lyrics fit perfectly as Country. Outstanding!
Special Countdown 15 to 500 – Day 8: I know… it’s Christmas Eve and here I am listening to Electric Wizard. But this Doom Metal band just gets better and better. Time to Die marks a return to their earlier sound: slower, more dissonant, darker, and with a clear influence of Stoner Metal. As with most bands of this kind, I don’t pay attention to the lyrics; the sound is what I’m interested in as it helps me relax.
Special Countdown 15 to 500 – Day 7: EDM artist Kaskade’s new compilation of what he considers representative of his work is a good introduction to his music. You won’t find some of his best songs here, but the ones included give you a good sense of what he is all about and his toned down approach to Electronica. It also shows that he is not a “one sound” artist and is able to differentiate his style in a genre that has too many artists with the same feel. But the fact that this compilation does not include his most popular works is also a let down–when buying compilations, people expect to find songs they are familiar with. I see this problem in a similar light to when Neil Young chose the songs to be included in his “best of” compilation and ended up releasing an album full of obscure songs that only true fans would enjoy. In this case, though, one does not need to be a fan to like these dancy, catchy songs.