Roe’s Best Albums of 2014: #7 – Hebrews by Say Anything

Artist: Say Anything

Album: Hebrews

Produced by: Max Bemis

Released: June 10, 2014

Album_cover_for_Hebrews_(June_10,_2014),_by_Say_AnythingI’ve already written about this album somewhat at length, and I’m not sure if there’s much left for me to say other than I believe this it was largely overlooked because the production and instrumentation and direction of this album was so darn ballsy and off-putting to those expecting something regurgitated. Many fans could not get over the hurdle that this album was not supposed to be like the others. With that said, I don’t think anyone could have gotten away with a crafting an album like Hebrews except for Max Bemis. His personal story and history as an individual/artist is a compelling one that I think translates well to a wide audience as they are able to relate literally and/or metaphorically.

No guitars, as many guest vocalists as in IDOTG, synths and strings aplenty with a doubleshot of musical theatre-whimsy, I’m so glad Max followed through with making this album, which I believe was a rebirth of sorts for him. Since he pushed the limits so far with this release, I’m curious to see what he does next in 2015, Two Tongues aside.

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Roe’s Best Albums of 2014: #9 – X by Ed Sheeran

Artist: Ed Sheeran

Album: X (pronounced “multiply”)

Produced by: Benny Blanco, Jeff Bhasker, Peter Cobbin, Ed Sheeran, Jake Gosling, Rick Rubin, Johnny McDaid, Kirsty Whalley, Pharrell Williams

Released: June 20, 2014

X_coverThis album starts off with immediate goosebumps. You have to credit Ed Sheeran that at the bare bones he is at his best, which means that with full orchestration he’s thebomb[dot]com. To create beautiful sounds with just voice and guitar is no easy feat. He’s a master at the loop pedal, a master at layering, and getting all your feels to the forefront of your sensory perceptions feel they’re bursting from your own skin. And although there are subtle orchestrations throughout, both ballads (“Thinking Out Loud”) and stadium powerhouses (“Sing”) shine through.

What I love so much about Ed Sheeran is that he marries a clear Damien Rice influence, pop sensibilities, and spitfire hip-hop lyricism; He combines them all quite wonderfully that it’s simply refreshing, and yet makes perfect sense in a post-everything world. is an update from + and is rich with harmonies, gospel choir moments, and trademark Ed Sheeran acoustic ditties. We get to hear about Ed’s life on the road, past trysts with past loves, and a frequent discord between a father and son.

I had the pleasure of seeing Ed live in Brooklyn a few summers ago and boy, was it worth it! Sold out show at Music Hall of Williamsburg, the crowd went bananas! You would have thought The Beatles came back to life. It’s just him, his guitar, a microphone, and his loop pedal. He’s a natural entertainer and a pleasure to watch.

There are moments that this album reminds me of late ‘N SYNC, so if you hold that point in time in high regard and fangirled as hard as me and some of my friends, I think you’d appreciate the production value of X and all it has to offer. And if by chance ‘N SYNC wasn’t your thing, you should still give this album a listen; If you love lyrics and appreciate the craft of songwriting, Ed’s got it all here.

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Roe’s Best Albums of 2014: #10 – The Voyager by Jenny Lewis

Artist: Jenny Lewis

Album: The Voyager

Produced by: Ryan Adams

Released: July 29, 2014

Jenny_Lewis_The_VoyagerMy love of this album is in no way connected to the 100% ownership of my heart to Star Trek Voyager although, maybe subliminally/subconsciously, there is a connection there.

I actually didn’t fully listen to this album until last week, but the songwriting, production, melodies, and words really grabbed me and upon revisiting it, I couldn’t have peace of mind if I didn’t include it on my yearly list.

I’m not or have ever been a huge Jenny Lewis fan, but this album made my ears perk up a bit. I suppose we can credit songwriting whiz and producer of this album, Ryan Adams on this feat. The guitars on this are just so crisp, clear, and smooth in ways I’ve never heard conveyed through Jenny’s previous releases. Many of the instrumental orchestrations, harmonies, and songwriting style reminds me of Tom Petty and Fleetwood Mac a bit – two of my all-time favs.

Overall, the lyrics seem to convey a sense of trying to make a dysfunctional relationship work where both individuals are really doing a terrible job at it. To add, there’s a nomadic quality to all the songs, perhaps conjuring days of yore, of past travelers dancing down a dusty road to the beat of the ever-steady rhythm of their internal drum. This is driving music at its finest. Pop this in and speed down the highway and you’re home.

I still have a lot of discovering to do with this album, but I’ve listed my favorite tracks below. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Have something to add? Drop it in the comments below!

Stay tuned for #9_

-Roe

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Roe’s Best Albums of 2014: (Pre-)Countdown / Introduction

In years past, I would get easily irritated reading or watching “Best Album Countdown” lists on your typical mainstream publication or TV show, knowing there was better music out there, “better than that garbage, right?”. It would get me so heated that I would feel compelled to create my own compilation and publish it. But not having kept proper track throughout the year, I was at a loss of what to list and how to list it. What if I forgot something, or didn’t listen to a record as much as I should have before garnering my opinion? Well this year it’s all different; I’ve been documenting my favorite albums since the beginning of the year and I’m proud of my 12-album list I’ve been painstakingly keeping tracking of for months.

Since the inception of the list, I decided to list my favorite albums by release date order – not in order of my personal preference – because that’s what this is for!:

Since the year has nearly come to a close, I will now break down this list, one-by-one, ranked lowest to highest on the albums 2014 birthed to us, that I believe are worth mentioning, and most definitely worth listening to and sharing with others.

More soon_

-Roe

Freckles

A couple weeks ago I was checking the mail. It wasn’t a lot, far less than usual actually. But while thumbing through the letters, I noticed something larger than the others addressed to me.  What struck me as strange was the fact that I hadn’t ordered anything recently as I’m unemployed and without the ability to be frivolous with my limited funds.  Yet it was a large envelope/package addressed to me specifically and I could feel the contents inside; Definitely a book of some kind.  I found myself somewhat perturbed.  Is that weird? Even if it is, later on I convinced myself that it wasn’t as we currently live in a paranoid, skeptical, over-analytical culture full of distrust and suspicion.

After pondering for a few minutes as to what this could be, I opened the package and there did indeed contain a book inside.  Freckles by Eric Shaw.  The book and author were unfamiliar to me and the whole ensemble seemed pretty DIY.  For example, no ISBN number, Arial and Times New Roman font, and the author’s return address label was on the package itself.  No publisher, etc.  It wasn’t large.  Just over 100 pages with some black and white photos inside.  I even Googled the book and although you can find it in various electronic formats and order it from the author directly, there’s nothing giving it “mainstream validation” as in search engine results from Amazon, eBay…sites like that.

From a quick glance, the format seemed to be poetry or something along those lines.  I was pretty dumbfounded.  Who could have sent this to me? Did the author somehow have my address?  I asked friends and parents about it.  They were clueless as to who could have sent it and seemed just as flabbergasted as I was.  I went through bank and credit card statements, my PayPal history, and came up with nothing as to how I could have received this book.  Finding no conclusive answer as to how I received it, I decided to open it up and give Freckles my undivided attention.  But before I could, I noticed a note inside – Two pieces of printer paper folded in half and typed single space.  Essentially, it was a message of the author’s thanks and appreciation for purchasing the book interwoven with life’s reassurances along the lines of, “everything’s going to be alright”, “someone will love you”, “you’re here for a reason”.  I don’t know, kind of uplifting stuff that any unemployed, directionless college grad would want to hear.  Kind of timely stuff, you know?  I read it over 10 times before I actually read the book.

Now, this isn’t a book review but I have to say I did enjoy reading the quirky, honest poetry from this mysterious author that uninvitingly showed up on my doorstep.  If I understand correctly, all the poems were written at a point in the Shaw’s life when he had uprooted himself from his familiar surroundings, got lost, did some thinking, reflected on mistakes, and constantly kicked himself for the broken heart he was so positively sure he caused himself.  Truth is, Freckles would/will never get “mainstream validation” from a publishing company or anything like that because it’s too raw, too real, too imperfect.  Kind of like a human being.  I think that’s why I liked it.  It’s at least one of the reasons why I did.  It even kind of reminded me of myself in a way.  Not always literally, but thematically.  That’s how I relate to Hip-hop sometimes, but that’s a different conversation to be had for a different day.

Now in the note Shaw provided, he listed his email address and link to his Tumblr site urging for feedback, communication, contact, etc.  Still baffled about how I ended up with Freckles, I decided to contact him.  I wanted an answer and I knew this would definitely get me one.  Turns out, I had won something on eBay from him – something Saves the Day related. (I’m pretty sure it may have been the white vinyl OOP edition of ‘Through Being Cool’ I won this past December/January)  He told me he uses his PayPal account to handle his book orders and eBay stuff and must’ve gotten my address from eBay mixed up with the book orders.  A silly mistake but I didn’t mind it.  In fact, I found it very interesting and told him so, along with the story I’ve just shared with you.  I got the vibe (although I guess it’s always hard to tell via email/text what kind of emotion a person is really conveying) that he was embarrassed about it and if he is, I wish he wouldn’t be because in a strange sense I really am grateful.  A book was sent to me that I would have never discovered had this situation not happened in this way.  I would have never been aware of this book in any other circumstance.

It’s just another one of those universe things where things are (literally) delivered to you or happen to you without your knowledge or control.  It’s another message that I will probably hold on to for way too long and over-analyze until it’s lost all meaning.  It’s kind of a problem I’m trying to get over but unsure how to go about it, you know?  But if anything, I now have a cool story to share and a book in my possession that not many people have or even know about.

The world knows.  The world always knows what you’re going through, how you feel.  It senses your energy and orchestrates its place within the field of everything else out there.  I’m sure of it.  Whether you call it God, Allah, Zeus, Shiva, Yahweh, Jehovah, Buddha, Jesus Christ, or Mother Earth – It’s all the same.  It’s this all encompassing entity and science and magic fueled by hope, fear, love, hate, and faith that is beyond our imagination yet is constantly pulling all these strings and allowing silly mistakes to happen that send unknown books to our front doors.

You can order Freckles for yourself, here.