Notes, July 2020 Edition

Hey everyone! I’m going to do a slightly-expanded version of Notes this month because of a bonus sixth album I want to talk about! Here’s what I’ve been listening to:

Burning Organ, by Paul Gilbert. Paul Gilbert is a rock music veteran with an absolutely amazing pedigree, but more than that this dude clearly just loves what he does. He’s fun at times, serious at other times, but always creates music you just want to bathe in. This album slaps from beginning to end and deserves the maximum volume settings on whatever you’re playing it on. And despite the fact that Gilbert’s real power is in his guitar playing, he has some great lyrics as well – such as on “I Am Satan” (a love song sung from the point of view of the devil himself): “But will you condemn me to hell // when you know why I dance so well?” I’m such a sucker for clever bits like that.

Sam’s Town, by The Killers. I like The Killers, but what I really liked about this album is how much better it gets over time. The album was REALLY hyped in marketing prior to its release, to the point where pretty much nothing could have lived up to how good everyone said this album was going to be. Despite that, it’s a beautiful album. There’s a lot of comparisons to be made between this and Springsteen’s (absolute best) album Nebraska, so if you liked that then definitely give this a listen.

Riot!, by Paramore. Great pop punk anthems and heartfelt ballads side by side on this album. Paramore is a really cool group, and while they’re more polished and less raw than I usually like my femme fatale punk, they make up for it in obvious talent and songwriting ability. I think a lot of people in the 2000’s were trying to be exactly what Paramore ended up getting exactly right.

RTJ4, by Run the Jewels. Their fourth album is actually the first of theirs I’ve heard, as I’m really new to this group. But they’re incredible hip hop, nailing everything great about the genre. In my opinion, the hands-down best track on the album is “Walking in the Snow.” Go listen to just that song, maybe even a few times and let it sink in. If it hits you like it hit me, listen to the rest of the album because it’s all incredible. I know it’s a strange comparison, but Run the Jewels actually remind me a bit of Rage Against The Machine – both scream at power structures in ways that give me life.

Jagged Little Pill, by Alanis Morissette. Such a classic album of my youth, and it still holds up. This is one of those albums where pretty much every song became a hit in its own right, and I’ve heard every song from this album on the radio at least a few times. They’re all worth it. Nobody was quite like Alanis, and she didn’t fit neatly into the genres she was adjacent to like alternative or singer/songwriter. She carved out her own niche and it remains wonderful, encapsulated nowhere more perfectly than this absolute gem of an album.

Folklore, by Taylor Swift. Bonus album! Taylor Swift released a surprise album literally less than 24 hours prior to me writing this blog, and I’ve already listened to it all the way through twice. It’s beautiful, and it’s definitely my favorite of her work. There are no skips on this album. I’m definitely NOT the target demo for Taylor Swift, but that makes it all the more enjoyable for me to listen to her, because I’m not really caught up as much in who she is as a celebrity, but rather can just listen to her music as it is. The fact that in that context I still think her music is absolutely incredible should tell you something.

May you find something to love in this list, and lots to love out in the world. If you do, share it with me!

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