Tag Archives: music

Tom Petty

Once upon a time in the summer of 2001, I walked into a Best Buy and walked out with the compilation album Greatest Hits by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I didn’t know much about Tom Petty at that point. I knew a couple of his songs like “Free Fallin'” and “The Waiting” and that was enough to justify buying it. I popped the CD into my car stereo on the drive home and my life was changed forever. His music spoke to me. It awakened something in my soul. I felt like Tom Petty was singing to me directly. He became my favorite artist instantly.

He was a rock star, a real rock star. He had hit singles and critically acclaimed albums and put on one hell of a live show. No road trip was complete without listening to a little Petty. In an era of illegal downloads, I made it a point to buy his albums, all of them. Even his stuff with Mudcrutch, the Traveling Wilburys, and Johnny Cash. I wanted him to have my money. I was lucky enough to see him live five times. Once at the Hollywood Bowl, twice at Outside Lands, once at the Oakland Coliseum, and the last one at BottleRock in what became his final tour. Watching Tom Petty live was better than listening to his albums. Everybody would sing along to every song, spark joints during “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” and just enjoy experiencing a legend do what he did best.

I hate that I have to speak about Tom Petty in the past tense now. He was a big part of my life. He always will be. You are the soundtrack to my life, Tom. Thank you.

Critically Rated at 17/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Air Drums

I was cruising to work on my longboard, weaving in and out of the pedestrians while blasting nineties rock songs on Pandora when I caught myself playing the air drums. I was hitting the imaginary hi-hat with my left hand, rapping the invisible snare with my right, and every once in a while I would play my way through the tom-toms. Air drums mean that I’m feeling the music. Some people jam out by playing the air guitar, some people prefer the air piano/keyboard, and everyone gets down to a sexy air saxophone solo, but I’m all about the air drums. I think they are the most fun to play. As long as there’s a beat you’ve got something to rock out to. Air guitarists sometimes have to wait for the guitar solo to rock out, but you can go crazy on the air drums anytime you want. I can play practically any air instrument, but the air drums had me hooked right away.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Music Visualizer

Every now and then, if I really like a band, I will buy an album of theirs on iTunes. I like iTunes because I have access to anything I purchase from there will be available on my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Pro. My favorite way to listen to an album for the first time is to play it on my laptop with a nice set of headphones plugged in. I always make it a point to turn on the visualizer. A music visualizer is a feature that makes music visual, in case you couldn’t figure that out for yourself. The next time you catch yourself listening to music through a media player, check to see if there is a visualizer option. That shit takes it to another level. The notes of a song become swirls of smoke, or dots and dashes, or bolts of electricity. Colors shift and patterns change and you’ll go on a journey through time and space if you only give in and let yourself go. Smoke a bowl and enjoy the light show.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Discovering a New Band

I’m thirty years old now and I’m set in my ways. I know what I like and I like what I know. So I end up listening to a lot of the bands and artists that I liked in high school and college. But hearing the same things over and over again eventually gets stale and I feel compelled to branch out, to experience new sounds. Discovering a new band you like is a great feeling (new to you, not necessarily a recently formed band). I have a friend who doubles as my concert buddy. It’s a pretty awesome arrangement. She is young and hip and loves music. She finds bands that she thinks I will like, tells me to listen to them, gets me addicted to them, and then tells me that they are playing a show nearby because she knows that I will want to see them live and she has someone to go to the concert with. Diabolical, I know. Discovering a new band is like making a new friend. You instantly like them, feel a connection, and forge a bond. It’s not something you should take for granted. Good things don’t happen all the time, ya know.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Netflix Music

Yo, Netflix! Where the music at? You have a bunch of movies, documentaries, television shows, and original content. You even have your own version of the Yule Log and New Year’s Eve Countdowns. I think that it’s time you step your game up and start streaming music videos or concert footage. You guys changed the way the world watches TV. It wouldn’t be much too hard for you to change the way we experience music. You could have your own concert series. Hell, you could have your own record label if you wanted to. I think you should. I think it’s a great idea. I’m happy to take credit for it. Just make a check out to me when you guys get on board. Oh, and you’re welcome.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Bands I’ve Seen at Outside Lands

I’m too lazy think of something to write about right now so I figured I would just make a list of all the bands I’ve seen at Outside Lands. In case you don’t know, Outside Lands is a three-day music and arts festival held annually in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. I live two blocks away from Golden Gate Park. I’m pretty much required to go and so I do. It’s a three-day festival in my backyard. How can I not go?

The first Outside Lands was in 2008. That was a long time ago so I can’t remember all the bands that I saw, but I remember seeing Beck, Dredg, Matt Nathanson, Steve Winwood, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Wilco, and all three main headliners: Radiohead, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and Jack Johnson.

In 2009 I saw Incubus, Tom Jones, Silversun Pickups, the National, Black Eyed Peas, The Mars Volta, M.I.A., Modest Mouse, Matt & Kim, Atmosphere, Ween, and the three main headliners again: Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, and Tenacious D. The Beastie Boys were supposed to be Sunday’s headliner but MCA got cancer and they were replaced by Tenacious D. Jack Black and K.G. put on a hell of a show, but that was my only chance to ever see the Beastie Boys.

Ok, so I might have lied earlier when I said that I’ve been to every Outside Lands because I didn’t buy tickets the third year because of various reasons. I was supposed to work that entire weekend but somehow got Sunday off. I celebrated by going to Golden Gate Park with some friends that night and listened to Kings of Leon’s set. We were on the wrong side of the fence, but I kinda sorta consider that as going to Outside Lands. Anyway, I learned from my mistake and vowed to never do that again.

In 2011 I saw Phantogram, Foster the People, MGMT, Phish, OK Go, Arctic Monkeys, the Black Keys, and Muse. I didn’t like Sunday’s lineup so I sold the ticket to a friend. I kind of regret it.

I kept my 2012 guide so I know exactly who I saw and when I saw them. 8/10/2012 was a Friday and I started the day by watching Tanlines, then Fitz and the Tantrums, Beck (again), Foo Fighters, and ended the night with Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Saturday began with Geographer, followed by Alabama Shakes, Big Boi, Passion Pit, and finished with Metallica. Sunday’s first set was Allen Stone, then fun., Franz Ferdinand, Regina Spektor, Santigold, Bloc Party, and it concluded with Stevie Wonder.

2013’s OSL rolled around and I saw Band of Horses, the National, Zedd, and Paul McCartney on Friday. I saw Social Studies, Atlas Genius, Young the Giant, Jurassic 5, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, a little bit of Nine Inch Nails, and then Phoenix on Saturday. On Sunday I saw Foals, Daryl Hall & John Oates (and yes, they did play “Maneater”), A-Trak, Matt & Kim (again), and closed the weekend with Red Hot Chili Peppers.

I misplaced my 2014 guide, but I know that I saw Aer, Bleachers, Holy Ghost! Chromeo, Disclosure, The Kooks, Local Natives, Haim, Death Cab for Cutie, Imelda May, Flume, Spoon, and Kanye West, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (again), and The Killers.

Don’t worry though, I have my 2015 guide so I can tell you that on Friday, 8/7/2015 I saw the Family Crest, Lake Street Dive, Lindsey Sterling, Glass Animals, RL Grime, Chet Faker, Porter Robinson, and Mumford & Sons. On Saturday I saw Misterwives, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Cold War Kids, Toro y Moi, Tame Impala, Classixx, and Kendrick Lamar. On Sunday I saw Shakey Graves, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, DJ Mustard, Odesza, Sam Smith, Caribou, and Elton John.

Outside Lands is a big part of my life. I look forward to it every year. I will blindly buy a ticket before they announce the lineup. It doesn’t matter who is playing. I love discovering bands that I haven’t heard before. I love finding out how popular bands sound live. I love seeing living legends like Paul McCartney and Elton John take the stage. I love forming temporary friendships with the random festival-goers around me, passing joints and sharing booze while killing time before the next set starts. I’m all about living life and Outside Lands is one of those places where I feel truly alive.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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A New Song From Your Favorite Artist

Everybody has a favorite band or artist. You have all their albums. You know all their songs. You’ve even seen them in concert a few times. You love their music. You put it on and it’s like a blanket, it wraps around you all warm and comfy. And every couple of years they put out a new album or release a new single. And there’s nothing quite like hearing a new song from your favorite artist for the first time. You know that you’re going to like it before you even hear it. You hit play and the music hits you. It should sound familiar yet still be new and exciting. It’s like unwrapping an awesome birthday present for three and a half minutes. You’re hooked and you can’t put it down. And when the song ends you play it over again and again so you can learn all the words.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Radio DJ

I used to think that being a DJ for a radio station would be a great job. I would get to play cool music all day, I would have thousands of people listening to what I have to say, and I would run the occasional contest for free concert tickets. Then I grew up and so did technology. We listen to Pandora and Spotify, we can download and stream music instantly anywhere and anytime. People don’t need to listen to the radio anymore and we don’t want to. If I’m listening to music on the radio, it’s because I have no other option. I want to hear music, not what the DJ has to say about it. I know that “Uptown Funk” is a catchy song, I don’t need the DJ to tell me that (or play it five times an hour). Radio isn’t necessary anymore and so what chance does a radio DJ have? They should get the Of Mice and Men treatment. We should lead them into a field, tell them about the rabbits, and shoot them in the back of the head. It sounds harsh, but it’s the most humane way to get rid of them.

Critically Rated at 5/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Whatzupwitu

Eddie Murphy has had a pretty successful comedy and acting career. You might also recall that he tried to use his popularity to launch a musical career. He collaborated with Rick James on the single “Party All the Time.” That was actually a decent song. But success went to Eddie Murphy’s head and he continued unleashing terrible music upon the world, like when he collaborated with Michael Jackson for a little ditty called “Whatzupwitu.” It’s bad song with an awful accompanying music video. Eddie and Michael walk around a green-screened sky while they are bombarded by poorly animated music notes, flowers, and peace signs. It seems like there was script for filming. The director just told them to dance around awkwardly with each other and reassured them that they will fix everything in postproduction. They didn’t. The end result speaks for itself. You can watch it below. And I’m sorry if the song gets stuck in your head, I promise that wasn’t my intention.

Critically Rated at 5/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Burning CDs

I wasn’t around for mixed tapes, but CD burners were just starting to hit the mainstream market when I was in eighth grade and ninth grade. It was around 1999 and MP3s were still a new thing. I was one of the smart kids who took advantage of the technology to make a profit. I would get a list of fifteen to twenty songs, download them, burn them onto a disc, slap on a label, and sell it for ten bucks. It seems like a big profit, but it would take a long time to burn a single CD. It took about twenty minutes to download a song off Napster with a 56k modem and it would get messed up if anyone picked up the phone. It could take up to six hours to download eighteen songs and another hour to actually burn the CD. Luckily most people wanted the same songs. It was mostly Blink 182 and Shaggy if I remember correctly. Now it takes less than a minute to download a song, and most people don’t even bother to do that anymore because they can stream it instantly or watch the video on YouTube. Technology keeps on pushing forward. Burning CDs seems so quaint but I kind of miss it.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Rediscovering a Song

There are times in your life where you fall in love with a song and listen to it ad nauseam until you hate it and never want to hear it again, and so you don’t for several years. Then by chance you hear it on the radio or blasting from a friend’s stereo and it only takes a few moments before you fall back in love with it. Rediscovering a song is a great feeling, it’s almost like hearing the song for the first time. You remember all the times that you sang it at the top of your lungs, all the times it played out as the soundtrack to your life. I was born in 1985 and grew up in the nineties. Every corny rock song from that era is relevant to me and transports me back to when I was a badass ten-year-old on the playground. It’s not even just rock, even a Seal song or some Dru Hill will make me have flashbacks to middle school dances. Rediscovering a song is one of the main reason that I’ve never thrown out old CD mixes that I downloaded and burnt myself in the Napster era, when a single song took twenty minutes to download and I only had an hour before my mom would come home and kick me off the computer. Music is an important part of life and rediscovering songs is like flipping through a photo album.
Critically Rated at 15/17
Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Knowing All the Words to a Song

You’re in the middle of a crazy party or going nuts at the club when the song cuts out and the DJ puts on a new track. The lyrics kick in after a few familiar bars and everyone roars with approval and they all start singing along. You join in, belting out all the words with everyone else and the music becomes bigger and louder and more intense. Everyone becomes connected and you’re transcended to another level. Music is an escape, a drug, and nothing gets you higher than when everybody is on the same level as you. Knowing all the words to a song in a key part of that. It means that you know the song. It means that it has meaning to you. And you have a bond with all the other people that appreciate the song as much as you do. Certain songs bring people together. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is an amazing song to listen to, but it’s so much better when you sing along to it with a bunch of friends (especially if you bob your head appropriately).

It’s surprising how many songs you actually know all the lyrics too.  You probably couldn’t sing all the words to a particular song if I told you to sing it a cappella, but you could do it if you heard the song playing. It’s easier to sing along to a song than it is to memorize one. You might not get all the words perfectly, but it’s still good enough to do karaoke.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Blasting Music On the Bus

I jumped on the bus yesterday hoping for a quick and quiet ride, but instead there was some jagoff blasting shitty rap music from his shitty boom box. Well, it wasn’t a shitty boom box because the music was loud as fuck and the bass was powerful enough to rattle the windows. All the other passengers on the bus were getting annoyed, one guy was pissed enough to tell the jagoff to turn off his music. The jagoff responded by turning his music up even louder. That didn’t sit well with the other passengers and people started yelling at him to turn it off. Things were escalating pretty quickly and it looked like things might start turning violent. Then the bus driver pulled over to the side of the road (not even at a bus stop), stopped the engine, and walked down the aisle towards the jagoff. The driver was a big intimidating black guy, and he put his finger right in the jagoff’s face and said, “Nobody wants to hear your shitty music. Turn it off now or get the fuck off my bus.” The jagoff instantly switched off his boom box and kept his head down in shame and embarrassment. He got off the bus two stops later. He knew that he was defeated. I can only assume that he jumped on the next bus so he could piss off another bunch of passengers. Blasting music on the bus is a great way to make enemies. You’ll never make a new friend by being an asshole. Unless they have the same taste in shitty music.

Critically Rated at 4/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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“Two Princes” by Spin Doctors

“Two Princes” is one of the premier hits of the ‘90s. It’s also one of the happiest songs that you will ever hear. It was written and performed by New York City’s Spin Doctors off of their album Pocket Full of Kryptonite. It has an upbeat melody and an infectious hook that gets stuck in your head. It’s impossible to listen to this song and not feel anything but pure joy. I’m not sure what he’s singing about, but I know I like it. I once listened to it on repeat on the way to work one miserable Monday morning. It was the best decision I ever made. An uplifting song makes everything better. People would run for the bus, miss it, and throw their hands up in exasperation, but they seemed happy about it when it was set to this song. Every smile, every wave, every laugh, and head nod seems to be for you. Listening to this song while experiencing real life is way better than any music video.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Playing an Instrument

I respect anybody who is capable of playing an instrument. I wish I could. I just don’t have the chops for it. I’ve played a few random instruments. In fourth grade we were forced to play the recorder (those plastic flute things), in sixth grade it was hand bells, and I took a drum class for a semester in eighth grade. Those experiences made me realize that I have no musical ability. None. At all. I have no sense of rhythm. I go off tempo even when I’m counting out the beat. But I’ve come to terms with it and I’m ok with it. Now I realize that most people can’t play an instrument and that’s a good thing. If everyone played music, everyone would be on stage and there would be nobody in the audience. Musicians need musically inept people like me to make a living.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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A Bad Cover of Your Favorite Song

Nothing makes you want to puncture your own eardrums with a dull pencil more than a bad cover of your favorite song. Your favorite song means something to you. It’s sacred. It’s something to honor and respect. The last thing that you want to hear is some no-talent singer screeching his way through the lyrics, backed by an off-pitch band playing out of sync. Your favorite song becomes unrecognizable, it becomes a tragedy, it becomes a farce, a joke, a disappointment. You can never unhear a bad cover of your favorite song. It lingers in the back of your mind, tainting the original album version and ruining it slightly. Maybe that’s why so many people hate karaoke.

Critically Rated at 6/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Overplaying a Song

You’re cruising down the street flipping through the radio stations when you hear a new song that you’ve never heard before. You start bobbing your head and tapping your feet and let the melody sink into your brain. You can’t help but let the infectious beat get stuck in your head. You like this song. You like it a lot. And you want to hear it again as soon as it ends. And you want to hear it again and again and again. You’ll find it on YouTube, you might even be desperate enough to download it. It’s your new favorite song and you’re going to keep on playing it until you’re completely sick of it and never want to hear it again. And it won’t take long. The more you like a song, the more you overplay it, and the faster you get bored of it. The danger of overplaying a song is that you will always end up hating it. But you can’t help listening to it over and over again ad nauseam. It’s a vicious cycle.

Critically Rated at 6/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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