If We Don't Make It Alive, It's A Hell Of A Good Day To Die

Nate's Music Blog will now be full of all of the new, or semi-new, albums that you will need to get immediately. I will also be excepting recommendations for new albums that should be reviewed and make the list. So please check back often as I will try to update on a regular basis and leave comments letting me know which albums I should be getting immediately. So to leave you with the immortal stylings of Wesley Willis, Rock Over London, Rock On Chicago, Nate's Music Blog - The Best Place For What To Listen To Next.

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The Best Album Of 2008

(2008) The Offspring - Rise & Fall, Rage & Grace
In case my faithful readers haven't picked up on this yet, I love The Offspring. I'm not going to pretend that I followed them from their first album as I hadn't even heard of them until they got radio play, and I didn't even really like them until my sister turned me on to Americana (thanks Kari). However, ever since then I can't get enough of them. When they put out a new album I listen to it pretty much straight until I can't listen to it anymore. After having done this a few times, there's a pattern I've noticed with a new Offspring album. There are a handful of songs that are completely pop-punk songs in which Dexter, deep in sarcasm, makes fun of some aspect of society. These are the songs that catch you you immediately, and are usually the radio songs, but are also the first ones that you get sick of first. Then there are the heavier, true punk songs. These take a bit more persistence before they make the "I love this song" list, but do make it eventually. Then there are the true gems of the album that are the fine mix of these two styles. With all that being said, Rise & Fall, Rage & Grace does not follow that same pattern, which elates me to no end. I was super excited to hear the album was coming out, but was bracing myself for more of the same and was ecstatic when I heard the album to find that the whole thing was that great mix of pop-punk and true punk mixed together. Dexter keeps up with the social commentary, but doesn't blast it in your face. This allows for the subtly of his lyrics to mix with the subtly of the music to produce a truly brilliant album. I believe that bands grow with age and go through various stages within their careers. I think that The Offspring has gone through a punk youth, followed by an adolescence where they were riding the line between pop-punk and true punk, and with Rise & Fall, Rage & Grace they have begun their third stage in which they are defining their own genre that is built on their roots, but is something we haven't yet heard and therefore I can't quite classify. Classification or not, their sound rocks and after listening to Rise & Fall, Rage & Grace 300 times, I'm starting it over to listen to it for the 301 time and is the reason why this is the best album to come out of 2008.
Must Haves
Track No. 01 - Half-Truism
Track No. 11 - Let's Hear It For Rock Bottom


Merry Christmas To All

(2005) Dianna Krall - Christmas Songs
Merry Christmas everybody! I really didn't find any good 'new' Christmas albums this year, but I hadn't heard Christmas Songs, so it was new to me. I was very happily with the jazz motif that Diana takes throughout the album, giving old classics a different sound than what you hear in restaurants and malls this time of year. She also does something else unique that I really liked on the album and that is blending one song into the next so there's a nice coherent flow throughout the album. I think it's fun to get new Christmas albums every year so you can hear your favorite songs re imagined by a new artist, and in that vain, if you haven't spent time with Diana's Christmas Songs, I highly recommend it this holiday season.
Must Haves
Track No. 05 - I'll Be Home For Christmas
Track No. 08 - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Nothing To Do With Elvis

(2007) The Fratellis - Costello Music
Costello Music is the debut album by the Scottish trio known as The Fratellis, and would be best described as Brit-pop at it's best. Now, I know the Brit-pop thing has been done and done again, and Costello Music is not so much of a boiling down of all the other Brit-pop bands to come out of the UK in the last couple of years, but instead it stands off on it's own with with a unique sound that is not over-produced but not overly raw. They deliver pleasant melodies and catchy tunes while not going crazy with instrument solos or lyrics that are overly deep or political. The album is just a fun romp through a party filled with your best friends. All of that wrapped up and delivered with one of the best album covers I've seen in a long time. So, if you're looking for a fun album that will have you singing along about showgirls and love sick ladies, then I highly suggest Costello Music.

As a side note, I did have this written in November, but didn't check the 'Publish' box, so sorry this is so late.

Must Haves
Track No. 02 - Flathead
Track No. 10 - Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night


I Like The Album And The Beard

(2008) The Black Keys - Attack & Release
Wow, how lame am I. I posted every day for an entire month and then left you hanging on the 2008 album. Well, I apologize by giving you one of the best albums of the year, Attack & Release. The Black Keys released their fifth, and best, album early this last summer and it has been on a regular rotation within my playlists ever since. They keep up their bluesy style while making the extremely hard transition from a raw under-produced sound to a well managed studio sound without losing their edge. I think this was a huge step for them because their early albums thrived on the fact that they sounded like they recorded their albums in the roadhouses you pictured them playing in and that helped create their image. However, in order to grow they needed to get a good producer that could transistion them from the garage sound to the radio ready sound they accomplished with Attack & Release. So kudos to their producer Danger Mouse, the DJ behind The Gray Album, but more kudos to Dan and Patrick for progressing without selling out. Although, I do have to ask, did Dan grow that beard to look more like a blues man instead of a clean cut frat boy? I actually don't care as long as he keeps delivering albums like Attack & Release.
Must Haves
Track No. 02 - I Got Mine
Track No. 03 - Strange Times


I Won NaBloPoMo

Whew, well I did it. 30 years of music spanning four decades featuring some of the best albums to be released. So, now that NaBloPoMo is over, what's next for Nate's Music Blog? Well, I'm going to keep up with the album reviews, but instead of going back in time (at least not too far) I'm just going to be reviewing new albums that I like. So stay tuned, as I still haven't delivered the album for this year, but will get it to you as soon as I can.

Two Great Sounds Sound Great Together

(2006) Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris - All the Roadrunning
It's hard to find a great musician that Mark Knopfler hasn't done a duet with, but for him to make an entire album with somebody else is something special and that's exactly what All the Roadrunning is. They recorded All the Roadrunning over a period of seven years, stealing studio time when they could get it, and keeping the whole project under wraps, probably because people would have started putting pressure on them to finish had they heard the two were collaborating together. However, the wait was worth it as Emmylou Harris has a truly beautiful voice that harmonizes perfectly with Mark's throughout the album. Along with blending their voices, they very much blended their styles together to give us something that's not really country, not really rock 'n roll, but something altogether new and unique. Hopefully we won't have to wait another seven years for these two to get back into the studio together, but if we had to wait twenty years for another album like All the Roadrunning to come out, that's a small price to pay.
Must Haves
Track No. 03 - This Is Us
Track No. 11 - All The Roadrunning


Que Onda Mis Amigos

(2005) Beck - Guero
Beck is a musician that can transcend genres while re-inventing them at the same time. However, Beck is not the only musical genius to grace Guero. Jack White steps in the provide help on the bass. Money Mark, who usually plays keyboard for the Beastie Boys, tickles some organ keys on the album. Petra Haden and even Christina Ricci lend their voices to a couple songs. Using all of this talent, the album weaves through Latin stylings to hip-hop remixes, from standard rock 'n roll to techno dance mixes. The brilliant thing is that it all meshes together to become a solid album instead of alienating fans of any of those genres. I think this comes from the fact that Beck grew up in LA and embraced all of the different cultures that surrounded him. Beck, in turn, was embraced by the cultures that he opened himself up to which earned him nicknames like Guero (which means 'white Mexican'). I think all of those cultures are proud to have Beck representing them in an album like Guero which can bring any kind of people together, forcing them to dance and have a good time.
Must Haves
Track No. 02 - Que' Onda Guero
Track No. 07 - Hell Yes
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