Jack White

My Top Ten Albums of 2014

Title is self explanatory and besides that, I really don’t like to wait so we’ll just get right to it, shall we?  Plus I don’t fuck around with all that Casey Kasem countdown type shit.  I’ll give #1 to you right off the bat.  I’ll even throw in 5 extra albums so that makes it a Top 15 list.  Who else is going to give you that?  Nobody.

But first, some rules.  The albums had to be released in 2014.  I take the rankings directly from my last.fm listening charts, which my kids cannot dilute nor influence.  These are truly the albums I listened to the most in the year of 2014, whether I like it or not.  I will also include a playlist with a couple of my favorite songs off each album.  If you agree to these rules, come out of your corners, let’s shake hands, and get down to business.

1.  They Want My Soul by Spoon:  Are you kidding me?  A Texas rock band?  I’ve been a fan for just about as long as they’ve been around, which is a long time.  I listened to this album pretty much nonstop, driving 12 hours straight to get my kids home in time for the first day of school after our annual summer trip to Texas.  The album was released the very same day I left Texas for Bama and it was a life saver.  If a band ever got together in the studio and said “Hey, let’s make an album specifically for this fan, for this exact day of her life”, this would be that album for me.  I loved it on that horrific day and still can listen to it without skipping songs today.  And if you know me, that says a lot.

2.  Crosses by Crosses (†††):  Again, are you kidding me?  This is a side project of Chino Moreno, who normally is head honcho for the Deftones.  I love Chino Moreno, okay?  Let’s just get that out of the way.  But I’m not deaf and if I didn’t like his side project, I wouldn’t listen.  Chino has a way with lyrics that no one I’ve ever listened to has.  I’m a lyric whore, I’ve said it before, and he is my pimp, no doubt about it.  Every single one of his lyrics tops anything that Jane Austen ever wrote for Mr. Darcy and if you know me, that says a lot.  He will hate fuck you in one song and then make sweet, slow love to you in the next, cap it off with a wedding ring and beg you to have his babies.  Holy shit.

3.  Royal Blood by Royal Blood:  Debut album from the British rock duo Royal Blood.  Another one hit out of the park for me.  I could listen to this whole thing without stopping or skipping and that is rare for me.  Just good old rock and roll, nothing really new but they sound so damned fresh.  The songs are sexy as hell and I love their lyrics.  A few songs, I could swear the lyrics could have been written by Jack White.  Run, don’t walk, to listen to them.

4.  Ryan Adams by Ryan Adams:  I’ve been a fan of Ryan Adams ever since I first heard his cover of “Wonderwall”.  I know that’s not a long time for some of you diehards but since then, I have been devouring anything new the man puts out.  This whole album is just good.  It just is.  The man can rarely do wrong by me but this album will always be special to me.

5.  Do To The Beast by The Afghan Whigs:  The first album by the Afghan Whigs in over a decade, I was so excited to listen to this for the first time.  Although I didn’t appreciate the entire album, at least half of it is loved, and that’s more than I can ask for these days.

6.  Half The City by St. Paul & The Broken Bones:  My music blogger friend, Fran, posted a video of these guys and I was gone.  They are Birmingham boys and I wrote about seeing them here in concert in their hometown here.

7.  Lazaretto by Jack White:  I did not get to see Jack White in concert this year but I absolutely loved his new album, and then of course, this happened.

8.  La Gárgola by Chevelle:  I think this album also dropped the day I drove the 12 hours straight back to Bama.  Regardless, I hadn’t heard it yet and it blew me away.  This was my badass album of the year.  I mean, listen to “Take Out The Gunman” and you’ll either want to shoot something or get to a gym as quickly as possible.  This was my workout album of the year, for sure.  Chevelle’s lead singer, Pete Loeffler, is at his best when he goes from subdued and brooding with barely contained rage to completely unhinged and screaming the very next beat.  Check out “One Ocean” for a complete about face.  It’s a truly beautiful song and shows some range of what they can do when they’re not taking ass and kicking names.  Or kicking ass and taking names.  Pete can do whatever the hell he wants.  Don’t question him.

9.  Tremors by SOHN:  Tremors was my laid back, chill album of the year.  I would fall asleep to this album and that’s not a bad thing.  The lyrics are still there, still passionate and sexy and everything I look for but the whole thing just says “relax”.  Not typically my normal thing but I’m glad I found them.  Definitely look forward to seeing what they have up next.

10.  Strange Desire by Bleachers:  This was the debut album of the American indie band Bleachers and it instantly got to me the way The Neighbourhood’s album did last year.  Fresh sounding, great lyrics and songs.  “Rollercoaster” was definitely my summer jam and “Wake Me” makes my heart race like few songs do.

11.  Indie Cindy by Pixies:  I’m a huge Pixies fan but this one was quite the let down.  The only reason it’s here is because I listened to Blue Eyed Hexe so much, I think I broke the internet for a couple days after it was released.  It is a staple on my workout playlist.  It’s the Pixies, in one song.

12.  Versus by Emerosa:  The third album by the post-hardcore band, I hadn’t really listened to anything by them before.  They can sound very pop-rocky much like Framing Handley, but there’s something else to them.  My favorite tracks from this album showcase that difference, the depth.  My favorite tracks from this album aren’t the typical pop rock ones but the ones that bring on the angst and anger for which I’m such a sucker for.

13.  X by Ed Sheeran:  I still don’t know what to do with this guy, to be honest.  I like him but he did that thing with Taylor Swift and that’s just hard for me to get past.  He’s adorable and he has a wicked sense of humor so a couple of the songs from this album boosted the album into my year favorites.

14.  Hesitant Alien by Gerard Way:  Gerard is the former lead singer of the band My Chemical Romance and I was devastated when they broke up a couple years ago.  MCR released a greatest hits album this year and it was actually #2 on my album chart but I didn’t include it because it was a greatest hits album.  Gerard Way can do no wrong in my musical book.  The king of angst himself, I relate to his songs probably more than I ever have any other writer/singer.  Justin from Blue October is the only other one who can come close.  I didn’t like the whole album but I liked enough of it that it’s a success for me.  It has all the quirkiness of Gerard and enough of MCR that makes me feel warm and gooey inside.  I hope he keeps putting good stuff out.

15.  Bed On Fire by Butch Walker:  A bit of a cheat  because this is actually a single, the album doesn’t come out until February, I believe.  This showed up on my last.fm charts as an album and I’m listening to this single constantly so I’ll include it, even as a cheat.  Butch lost his father last year and although it’s his right to mourn his father for however long it takes, I was hoping he’d get back to his normal style of writing soon.  Listening to Butch under normal circumstances alternately makes me want to fill the biggest glass I can find with wine and sit in front of a huge ass fireplace buck naked or get naked after drinking an insane amount of hard liquor and climb onto a bar somewhere to dance in protest over getting older.  Either way, I’m naked and at this time of year, that’s not a good thing.  Trust me.  I haven’t seen him in concert yet but this happened this year.

Honorable Mention, Black Widow by In This Moment:  I was editing this for the final time before publishing and realized there are no women on this list, which isn’t too surprising.  I have a hangup about most girl bands, women singers, etc.  I just relate to males more musically but I was shocked that In This Moment didn’t appear.  I listen to them a lot, especially while working out at the gym.  The lead singer, Maria Brink, is a complete and total badass.  She can sing beautiful notes in a breathtaking ballad and then scream louder and fiercer than any metal dude out there today.  Also, her lyrics are amazing.  Chick’s been through some shit.  I’d love to know her.  Check them out.

I hope your musical year was as good as mine was.  Some years it seems slim pickings but this year was actually a goldmine as far as good albums go.  I hope you find a few that you like in this list.  If you discovered a band or album you love this year that’s not on this list, please let me know!

Don’t Cross The Streams, Damn It!

So I started watching this guy and his family, ViewFromTheCheapSeats, about a month ago for their Universal Orlando vlogs.  As some of you know, my family celebrates Halloween week in Orlando every year.  Yes, we are freaks but that’s not why we’re here tonight.

If you’ve been paying attention, you know that fall is my favorite season and I wait all damned year for the fall brews to arrive in stores.  Here’s a reminder if you don’t care about me at all and don’t listen to anything I say/write.  Douchebag.

If you’ve really been paying attention, are close friends with me and truly love me, you know I love the shit out of Butch Walker.  I haven’t blogged about him yet because really, it’s just too personal.  I can share all day long about my internet purchases of solar sex toys and Jack White but not Butch.  That’s where I draw the line.  Mostly because I still haven’t been able to see him in concert and he’s doing some shows with my other favorite singer of all time Ryan Adams and if I could see both of them at once the fucking universe would explode and right before it exploded, I’d be able to cross two – TWO!- whole things off my Concert Bucket List but the universe apparently hates my guts so I don’t get to see either of them yet, together or separately, and since I really don’t feel like going on a downward spiral with Jack Daniels tonight, we’ll just stop talking about this shit right now.

Everyone take a deep breath and calm down.

All these run-on sentences and shortness of breath were brought on because I was catching up on my YouTube subscriptions just now and ViewFromTheCheapSeats posted the video below, which seems completely harmless at first.  Candy, tacos, and pumpkin beer?  Hell yeah, I’m in.  His family is adorable but I’ll admit that I stuck around for the fall brew review.  That’s when the shit hit the fan and he had to cross the streams.  He crossed the streams, people!

I’m not even sure how I’m typing this right now because I’m 93% positive my head exploded but it is what it is.  Start watching at the 4:14 mark.  I’m warning you, though, go to the bathroom first, walk the dog, take your nighttime meds, give the kids a bath and kiss the love of your life goodnight because your mind is about to be blown.  You won’t be able to do anything else for the rest of the night, at least.  I mean, I’m just going to sit here and stare at my computer screen while drinking fall brews for the rest of the night as soon as I post this blog.

So y’all take off your Normal Caps and put on your Steph Caps (it’s the weird one you try to avoid, sitting over in your corner) and watch this video through my slightly crazed blue eyes.  4:14 mark.  You’ve been warned.  Go!  No, wait!  Be sure to also go to the 8:30 mark to see the end and the pictures that ultimately caused my cessation of brain function until at least tomorrow morning.

I have found my long lost twin.  We were separated at birth.  I know this in my heart.

You can take off the Steph Cap now.  Magenta really isn’t your color but I didn’t have the heart to tell you.

E has been gone on business all week and the struggle is real here at home as a temporary single mom but for tonight I have Butch Walker and fall brews.  Have a great week, y’all!

USA! USA! US.. Hey, Whatcha Got In That Bottle?

The coolest women EVER. I lived in the wrong damned era but I’m currently taking applications from super hot women who also love the booze so we can restore this lost sport to its rightful place.  For America!

We were in Nashville a couple weekends ago (Jack White and Third Man Records follow-up post coming up soon!).  We visited the Cuntry (see what I did there?) Music Hall of Fame.  We had some time to kill after that, so we walked around downtown Nashville.

Downtown Nashville is busy on the weekends.  There are lots of bars, record stores, bars, random ice cream shop from the Andy Griffith era and… bars.  Did I say bars?  They have lots of bars.  It was daytime, however, so we didn’t feel weird about dragging our kids down there.  We took a horse drawn carriage ride and took in the sights and sounds of downtown on a Saturday.

One of those sounds came from atop one of the two story bars.  I couldn’t help but think that the weight of all the humanity clustered together on the upper level would surely result in an awful catastrophe.  But I digress.  As usual.

I don’t follow soccer.  I hate soccer.  But that day, the chorus that rang from the second level of that probably-should-be-condemned bar was “USA! USA!  USA!”  And I thought how awesome it was that pretty much everyone you know, no matter where they’re from in the United States, could cheer for one team.

I’m an Alabama Crimson Tide football fanatic.  We moved here six years ago and I resisted all the hype for a while.  But it pulls you in, even when you think it won’t.  I vowed not to choose between Alabama and Auburn, even after being told multiple times by different people around here that I would have to.

I did eventually choose.  Some people ask why or how I chose Alabama over Auburn.  All I can say is that, after a while of watching the local news, listening to local sports radio, reading AL.com, etc., the choice just becomes clear to you.  I mean it.  It’s like Harry Potter and the Sorting Hat.  Your heart knows where to go.  If you make fun of me for that line, I will come to your house and kick you in the taint.

I have blocked family on Facebook because they acted like asses during football season and decided to post anti-Alabama shit on my wall, just because.  We weren’t even playing their team’s sorry asses.  They just hate Alabama.

You can’t escape football here.   It’s a living, breathing thing in Alabama.  Even during the off-season, news about football breaks every single day, multiple times a day.  I would not be surprised at all if one day a headline popped up on my Bleacher Report app exclaiming “Nick Saban Did NOT Eat His Traditional Little Debbie Snack Cake For Breakfast!”

You laugh, but I’m serious.  That could be an actual, real Alabama headline.

Chaos would reign.  Grown men and women would not come out of the fetal position all day, myself included.  Babies would cry inconsolably until Nick just did the right thing and ate his traditional Little Debbie snack cake breakfast.  Raging debates would ensue over what the hell this news meant.  How will his decision not to eat the Little Debbie snack cake impact the starting QB contest?  Why didn’t Nick just eat the damned Little Debbie snack cake?  He does it every single morning.  Every.single.fucking.morning.  College Gameday would set up camp in Tuscaloosa.  Kirk Herbstreit would predict WHEN he thought Nick would once again eat a Little Debbie snack cake.  Lee Corso would don a Little Debbie snack cake costume.  The local networks would interrupt regular broadcasting to ponder what this meant for our football season.  The sky would rain blood, frogs would fall from the sky.  Churches would remain open 24/7 so all could pray for Nick Saban, who has obviously given up on life and (way more importantly) football, because he didn’t eat the fucking Little Debbie snack cake.

All because, maybe, just maybe, Nick simply wants to cut back on his sugar intake.

I say all this to illustrate the passion that sports can bring out in people.  Irrational, totally crazed passion that makes one block family on Facebook.  Passion that inspires knowing your team’s stats so you can battle the haters that come from EVERYWHERE when your team starts to play in the fall, in my case.

It feels really good that everyone in my Facebook and Twitter feeds are posting “USA!  USA!  USA!” today.  I’m glad I don’t have obnoxious Germany fans, cluttering up my wall with USA hate and stupid memes that aren’t even funny or snarky, dissing my team.

As I write this, Germany currently leads the USA by a goal.  If pure excitement and unity count for anything, though, I think we got this.

USA!  USA!  USA!

Also, you might want to check out my friend Kari’s blog post from earlier today (which inspired my ass to finally write this post)  here.  Her conversations with her brother are the bee’s knees.  They make my brain hurt from all the intelligent words they string together.  At one time.  I’m in awe.  And I need an Excedrin.

The Breach

Warning:  I use all caps way too much in this post.  And also a lot of incomplete sentences.  It was necessary.  

I am a huge Jack White fan.  In any form.  Put Jack White in it, I’m a fan.  The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, Jack White solo.  Hell, put Jack White in Nickelback and I am there – front row, lighter in the air, prophylactic antibiotics at the ready.

If you’ve never heard of Jack White, I could introduce you to him lots of different ways but I’ll start with this clip from the documentary “It Might Get Loud”.

Jack White (from here on, I’ll just call him “Jack”) founded a record label he called Third Man Records in Detroit in 2001.  He produces and puts his own and other’s songs on vinyl.  You know, records.  That you have to play with a needle.  He opened the physical manifestation of Third Man Records (from here on, known as “TMR”) in Nashville in 2009.  It is the “Willy Wonka” of all record stores.  Jack is the most talented song writer, singer, and guitar player of our time, in my very humble opinion.  He also plays the piano and drums.  He is listed as #70 on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists.

My husband is in Nashville tonight.  I drove him to the airport this morning.  The whole way there, I made him listen to Jack White in all of Jack’s various awesome musical forms.  I told my husband that he had to take me to Nashville this summer to visit Third Man Records.  He agreed way too easily and I should have known something was up.

My husband (from here on, we’ll just call him “E”) isn’t a big Jack fan but I made him watch this video last year.   TMR has the only working vinyl recording booth open to the public in the whole wide world.  The guy making the record is Jack’s former Raconteur’s bandmate Brendan Benson. Watch for Jack at the 3:12 mark.

Pretty cool, right?

So, I’m leaving the movie theater tonight with my kids.  I took them to see Captain America again. Don’t judge me, people! It was for the kids.  I’m an awesome Mom.  It has absolutely nothing to do with Bad Buckey.  I swear.  Anyway, this picture is randomly on my phone like something right out of the horror movie “Saw”.  The caption read “Where am I”?  I started frantically looking in every direction like a paranoid hummingbird on crack.

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That was followed by another picture.  I just knew the caption would read “Do you want to play a game”?  I almost shit my pants until I enlarged it and saw what was pictured and then I shit my pants anyway.

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E was there.  He was in my would-be musical inner sanctum.  He traipsed through my musical mecca.  He went to my modern day Graceland and breathed the very same air Jack has before I did. He not only picked up my Krispy Kreme doughnut in musical form but he licked it on all sides, put it on his dick and then documented the whole thing in pictures.

I hear you out there, you traitorous little bastards.  “C’mon, Steph, don’t you think you’re kind of exaggerating”?  Well, no, Steve (random name), I don’t.  You see, he arrived there at 6:07 p.m.  The store closes at 6:00 p.m.

I always tell E that he has “a way” with people.  I can call and talk to a receptionist/teacher/store, whatever, and they will give me the business and by “business”, I mean they won’t give me shit.  E can call 30 seconds afterwards, speak to the exact same person as I did, have the exact same request as I did and get results.  Almost every time.

E got into TMR tonight, after hours.  A chick who works there told him they were closed THROUGH THE LOCKED DOOR.  He casually said “Oh, golly gee, I was just going to take a few pictures, Ma’am” and he was inside like the starting quarterback on prom night.  He chatted it up with the lovely TMR chick.  They talked all about the latest single Jack just dropped, which E only knew about because I TOLD HIM THIS MORNING!  E knew before I did that Weezer was there at TMR just days ago, re-recording “Susanne” in the Record Booth!  How does E know that?  His new best friend at TMR told him tonight!

Locked inside, again, after hours, with TMR chick and E was a band.  An entire band.  They just stopped by and were chatting with the TMR help.  I excitedly asked E which band it was.  He didn’t know because he DIDN’T ASK!  I know, fellow music freaks!  I KNOW!  I am having a stroke right now. I mean it, I smell toast.  I need medical aid.  This is the blog equivalent of Fred Sanford having The Big One.  Elizabeth, I’m coming home!

To E’s credit, he did buy me a tee shirt and he readily told the TMR chick that I was the Jack Super Fan who brought him to their door.  Also, Jack wasn’t there tonight as he just started his new tour so that also lessens the pain.  However, this breach will not be forgotten.  You can’t just remove a musical Krispy Kreme doughnut from your dick, unlick it, put it back in the box and act like nothing ever happened.  I’m not one to hold a grudge or anything but if any of y’all are driving by the Birmingham airport tomorrow night, there might be a doughnut licker who needs a wet wipe and a ride home.

All joking aside, check Jack White, in any form, out.  Here’s a few of my favorites.

“Will There Be Enough Water?” by The Dead Weather may not be his most popular song but I think this video illustrates his talent really well.  It’s also on one of my “Sleep” playlists because the actual recording of it is very comforting to me.  It has the sound of crickets in the background and it’s a lot quieter.  I know, sounds crazy, but it’s put me to sleep literally hundreds of nights.

Here’s his barn burner cover of the old Little Willie John song “I’m Shakin'”:

And, what the hell?  A little something for everyone.  Here’s “Freedom at 21”:

And here’s a few more pics E snapped tonight.  Again, locked inside TMR.  After hours.  With some mystery band.  I’m not bitter or anything.