Saturday, February 27, 2010

New Music 2009

To follow up on my first post regarding the Best of 2009 as chosen by all sorts of media outlets, I wanted to share a list of my own.  Rather than a defined, ordered list like the other sites have, I like to pick my favorite albums from the year and then pick a favorite song from each to put onto a "New Music" mix cd.  It's easier than narrowing everything down to one song, album and artist, and it gives me a way to look back and remember a specific year.  I'm still working on the mix for 2009, but so far, here is a list of the artists and albums that I plan on incorporating (listed alphabetically, by band):

The Airborne Toxic Event - The Airborne Toxic Event
Arctic Monkeys - Humbug
The Avett Brothers - I And Love And You
Trent Dabbs - Your Side Now
Dashboard Confessional - Alter The Ending
Dawes - North Hills
Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown
Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
Jedd Hughes - Jedd Hughes
Mat Kearney - City of Black & White
John Lefler - Better By Design
Meese - Broadcast
Metric - Fantasies
Monsters of Folk - Monsters of Folk
Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band - Outer South
Our Lady Peace - Burn Burn
Pearl Jam - Backspacer
Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Silversun Pickups - Swoon
U2 - No Line On The Horizon
M. Ward - Hold Time
Weezer - Raditude
Wild Light - Adult Nights

When I'm done creating the mix, I'll post it here, and since I've been doing this since 2000, maybe in future posts I'll go back and share some of the older mixes.  It's think it's really interesting to look at how my tastes evolve and change from year to year.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Eric Stepanian - Club Passim, Cambridge, MA - Feb. 3, 2010

Earlier this week, my wife and I went to see local singer/songwriter Eric Stepanian perform live at Club Passim in Cambridge, MA.  Usually, Eric Stepanian is the lead singer and one quarter of the Boston-based band Stepanian - my favorite local band.  While I'm not familiar with a lot of the local music scene, we saw Stepanian open for Bell X1 a few years ago at Paradise Rock Club and really liked them.  Since then, we've seen them live 3 times and it's always a great show!  They play rock/pop music and their most recent album, Wait Our the Rain (the LP), is really good as well. 

While this was Eric Stepanian's first solo show we've seen, it was no exception - it was great!  I wasn't sure what to expect from seeing Eric alone or what music he would play, but he played a mixture of Stepanian songs I was familiar with, new originals and even threw in a few eclectic covers (Bruce Springsteen and Lady Gaga).  Overall, it was just a good time and he sounded great.  He said he was going to be recording a solo album sometime in the near future, so now I'm really looking forward to it!

Opening for Eric Stepanian was Ben Carter, a local singer/songwriter who is also going into the studio in the near future.  I liked his set as well and would definitely see him live or pick up his cd in the future. 

You should really check out Stepanian if you get a chance - I'm sure you will enjoy!  Also, on a final note, if you are looking for a local venue to see some cool, small shows, you should definitely check out Club Passim!  They have good food and a great mission!

Best of 2009 Lists

I know we are already a month into 2010, but I've been busy and never posted about the "Best of 2009."  In this post and one more, that's exactly what I will do.  Below, I've collected a bunch of "Best of 2009" lists from different websites, magazines and blogs.  It's not a comprehensive list of every site out there, but each one I've included is something that I read in print or online on a fairly regular basis.  For each site, I've provided a link to the main page, and then I have provided links to their best song, album, video and artist lists of 2009 (as available).  Also, since I don't think it will spoil anything, I've provided the name of the #1 pick from each category and a link to that #1 on Lala (again, where available).  Hope you enjoy!

Rolling Stone:
Best Album: U2 - No Line On The Horizon
Best Song: U2 - "Moment of Surrender"

Rolling Stone Reader's Poll:.
Best Album: Pearl Jam - Backspacer
Best Song: Pearl Jam - "The Fixer"

Best Album: The Avett Brothers - I and Love and You

Best Album: Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

Best Song: Empire of the Sun - "Standing on the Shore"
Best Canadian AlbumHandsome Furs - Face Control
Best Canadian Song: Metric - "Help I'm Alive"

Best Album: Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
Best Song: Animal Collective - "My Girls"

Best Album: Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
Best Song: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Zero"
Best Video: Matt & Kim - "Lessons Learned"

Stereogum Gummy Awards:
Best Album: Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
Best Video: Grizzly Bear - "Two Weeks"

Entertainment Weekly:
Best Album: Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

Hype Machine Music Blog Zeitgeist:
Best Album: Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
Best Song: Songs Not Ranked
Best Artist: Phoenix

Seems like Animal Collective tops quite a few lists, but honestly, I haven't really gotten into them.  In my next post about 2009, I will provide more details on some of my favorites from the year.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Album Off The Shelf #1 - Marty Casey & Lovehammers - Marty Casey & Lovehammers

As I mentioned in my first post, my wife and I own over 850 cds (but who's counting!).  When you own that many, you don't always listen to the older ones all that often, and sometimes it's interesting to go back and see what you've got "on the shelf."  For this post, I asked my wife to go and pick something older or less common off the shelf, and she came back with the self titled album from Marty Casey & Lovehammers.  In the future to do another post like this, I may pick another album at random, or I may pick something that I've been thinking about that deserves another listen.  I won't review these albums, but will provide some thoughts on why I bought the album, and what I like or don't like about it. 

As for Marty Casey & Lovehammers, this album came out in 2006  after Marty Casey was runner-up on the TV show Rock Star INXS.  On the show, the remaining members of the band INXS were looking for a singer to replace the deceased Michael Hutchence.  It was an interesting show that was sort of a rock version of American Idol.  Marty Casey came in second on the show, but he stood out to me, and I thought he deserved to win.  He had some great performances (including The Killers' "Mr. Brightside") and on one episode, he performed an original song, "Trees.

The song "Trees" was included on the Marty Casey & Lovehammers album, and this alone motivated me to buy the album.  It's embedded below, but I'm warning you now, its really catchy! The lyrics are a little bit silly, but I'll be surprised if you aren't humming or singing it for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, the rest of Marty Casey & Lovehammers is not streaming through Lala, but the link at least gives you the option to buy the mp3s. 

The rest of the album is also pretty good.  If I had to categorize it, I would say it fits in quite well with mainstream modern rock of the early 2000's.  While it is nothing truly amazing, it is a well polished album, and I'm surprised it didn't catch on a little more.  Especially with the lead singer having appeared on a prime time TV reality show.  A few of my other favorites from the album are "Casualty" and "Rain On The Brain."  If you listen to those songs and enjoy them, then you would probably enjoy this album.

Also, if you are interested, it looks like Lovehammers (Casey is still part of the band) have a new album, Heavy Crown. bought by Apple

Since I'm posting about news, I thought I would share another story that I heard today and that may actually have an effect on this blog. has been bought by Apple!  It is being reported and discussed all over the web, but here's an article about it from Rolling Stone.  It doesn't seem like anyone knows exactly what effect this will have on Lala yet, so I will keep you posted if I hear more or if it is going to change the way I do anything on this site.  Interesting stuff!

Weezer Concert Cancelled!

For anyone who hasn't heard, the Weezer concert I was supposed to see tonight has been canceled.  The bus that was transporting lead singer Rivers Cuomo,his family and an assistant was in an accident yesterday morning, and he was sent to the hospital for internal injuries.  The band manager has posted a detailed description of the event on  Sounds pretty crazy and scary! 

It seems that the concerts will be rescheduled, but there is no indication of when.  I guess we'll just have to wait and see.  Hope you get better soon Rivers!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Weezer - Raditude

So here it is, my first review post on this blog. I'll be talking about Raditude, the newest album from the band Weezer, but before I get too deep into this review, I wanted to share a little bit of information how I'll be handling reviews for this blog. First and foremost, I do not claim to be a professional critic of any sort. My reviews are just another way to share what I think about the topic in question, and in the end, whether I like it or not. For each review, I'll be sharing some thoughts about the subject and then provide a rating out of 5 stars. (Hey, the blog is called "Five Star Favorites.") If relevant, I’ll also provide the album stream from Lala at the end of the post. As always, whether you agree or disagree with my reviews, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Okay, back to Raditude: Honestly, I’m not sure exactly what to think of this release. Generally speaking, I like Weezer quite a bit. I really liked their first album, Weezer (Blue Album), and I loved Pinkerton. I've also seen them live 3 times and will be seeing them again next week (review to follow). In their more recent work, there have been some ups and downs, but I would say that I generally have enjoyed everything they put out. I think Raditude fits in the second category with the later albums. It has some ups and downs, but overall, I enjoy it. It’s a bit of a change for the band as there are cameos (Lil' Wayne) and guest songwriters (Tyson Ritter of All American Rejects), and I think you can really hear their different influences. Actually, because of that, my biggest critique is that Raditude doesn’t always necessarily sound like Weezer. A song like “Can’t Stop Partying,” is good and really catchy, but if I heard it on the radio, I don’t that I would have thought "Oh! A new Weezer song!" While this isn’t always a bad thing, it does leave me slightly disappointed since I do still miss the early Weezer sound.

Overall, I find myself enjoying Raditude and listening to it more than I thought I would at first, but it also leaves me wanting more. I’ll give it 3 out of 5 stars, and hope they come back with something closer to Pinkerton next time!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Tools of the Blog

As I mentioned in my first post, in this post I thought I should probably tell you about a few of the main websites I will be using to share my passion for music with you on this blog.  Up first is, followed by,, and – This is a great site for streaming full songs and albums. This site provides one free full length stream of every song in their library. After your one free listen, you can hear a 30 second sample for free, pay 10 cents for infinite steaming of that song or pay the going rate for the mp3 or mp3 album. I really like this site in general, and I like it for this blog because I can embed a song or cd here and you can hear the whole thing without much difficulty. You can see a couple of my favorite features in the sidebar, and there are tons of other cool things about the site, so maybe I’ll go into more detail in a future post.  For now, feel free to check it out yourself, sign up and "follow" me (Dan B.).  Once you are signed up, you can use the players at the right and listen to the linked music. – A great site that started in the United Kingdom and that lets people track their concert history and see upcoming shows using all sorts of search criteria. For past shows, you can upload lots of information – pictures, setlists, reviews, etc…, and once it’s uploaded, anyone else can see it too. For upcoming shows, along with artists and dates, you can see who else on the site is going and usually link to a ticket vendor. As I mentioned in my first post, my user name is OffHeGoes6, so sign up and track me.  The biggest drawback of this site is that the user base isn’t quite as big as I’d like to see it. For most of the shows I’ve seen, I’m the only person or one of only a few on the site who was there. Check it out – Maybe we can help this site take off! – This site has some features in common with the two sites listed above. It has a concert history tracking tool like Songkick, and also has some streaming like I personally prefer the other sites more, so I don't use this all that much. The streaming on Lala is much easier to use, and’s music selection is more limited. The concert tracking and history on has more people using it locally, but Songkick seems to be the better organized and cleaner looking site. If you are curious about this one, my username here is Nothingman6, so check it out as well. – I think this site’s use is pretty obvious from its name.  It is a concert setlist wiki where anyone can go in and add or edit setlists for a given show.  As I mentioned, Songkick also has a setlist feature with all of its shows, but is nice because they have a view that I can embed in this blog for shows that I want to talk about or review.  

There are tons of other great music websites out there that I may talk about in the future, but these a few that I like and will using for this blog.  If you have questions or comments about any of these tools or the way I use them, post a comment or email me!

Also, does anyone know where I got my user names for Songkick and from?

"What do you Love About Music?"

"To Begin With Everything" - Almost Famous

Hi everyone – As some, most or all of you know, my name is Dan, and I live in Somerville, MA - which is just outside of Boston. As the quote from Almost Famous implies, I love music (both live and recorded), and I’m writing this blog to share my love with you.

What type of music do I like?  Generally speaking, I like modern rock, alternative, grunge, independent rock, folk, emo, and on and on, but I am willing to listen to a little bit of anything (if it's good). My wife and I own over 850 cds. We still buy most of our music on physical media, but lately, she’s been doing a bit of downloading as well. So basically, I haven’t joined the world of digital music and iTunes yet. I own an mp3 player, but not an iPod. Most of the time, I rely on cds to listen to music, although lately I've been doing some some online/streaming listening as well.

Maybe more than recorded music, I love seeing live shows. You can see my full concert history on (user name OffHeGoes), but to give you an idea, I’ve seen about 75 shows throughout my life. I’ve seen about 12 shows this year - from some really big ones (U2 at Gillette Stadium) to some really small ones (10 Out of Tenn at CafĂ© 939).  I can't fully explain it, but I feel like seeing live shows is the ultimate experience for me.  It's you, the crowd, the music, the artist all coming together, and you really can't beat it.  If it wasn't for the late nights to see live shows and the full time job, I would be seeing even more concerts.  

My favorite band of all time is Pearl Jam. I own over 30 Pearl Jam cds, 5 dvds and have seen them live 11 times. I’ll probably post more on my Pearl Jam love another time.  As this blog goes on, I'll share some of my other favorites, but off the top of my head here are a few other artists I really like: Ryan Adams, Radiohead, Griffin House, Dashboard Confessional, The Killers, and although it's really a rotating group of artists, 10 Out Of Tenn.

In my next post, I’ll talk about some of the ideas and tools I’m going to use in this blog, but in general, I’ll be sharing my thoughts and reviews on anything music related that interests me. I’ll review some live shows and new cds. I’ll share current listening notes on new and old music.  I might talk about interesting websites or music news. And as time goes by, I'll add in anything else music related that may interest me or you.

If you have any comments or thoughts about this blog and what I've done or will be doing, I’d be happy to hear from you. Also, if you are reading this, it would be great to hear from you in the comments!