2011 – Blink 182 – Neighborhoods

I’ve talked to more than a few people who had no idea this album was ever even released. Yes, in 2011, Blink 182 got back together and released an album entitled Neighborhoods. Those that know it, have mixed feelings about it, from what I’ve heard. And I feel some of the same ways. I encourage people to at least check the album out, but the rest of this post goes in depth a little more for the people who have known Blink 182 for years and years.

Basically, the album is very much Tom’s album. If you listened to and enjoyed Angels and Airwaves, you’ll most likely enjoy this. Although the songs aren’t as ethereal as “AVA” songs (so nicknamed after Tom’s daughter), lyrically AND musically, this sounds more like Tom’s project Angels and Airwaves, than the Mark and Travis project Plus 44. It’s a lot less Blink 182 punk rock or pop punk, and it’s trying to be much deeper.

Trying to be is the key word here, though. I find the album to be repetitive. I think if I hear Tom DeLonge sing one more song with the word “ghost” in it, I’m going to drive my car off a cliff. Only one track on the album seemed like it was one of Mark’s, and it had the trade mark “I’m going to drive these lyrics in to the ground by repeating them until you hear them in your nightmares.” Although Neighborhoods is worth listening to, just don’t expect to hear Blink 182. Although the band changed slightly with every album they released, this just isn’t the same as any of them that came before. Still, since I know more than a few people didn’t even know the album was released, so you owe it to yourself to check it out!

1999 – Angry Salad – self titled

Boston boys Angry Salad had a few albums and received some national recognition. Their major label debut was also their last album together, but the self titled Angry Salad is one of my most favorite albums of all time. I, like many, was introduced to the band through The Milkshake Song, featuring the lyrics “she gave me / a milkshake and a kiss… / I don’t need / a whole lot more than this.” Angry Salad features a not-very-edgy 1990’s alternative rock kind of sound (remember bands like Tonic and The Flys?), and the album even features a cover of the famous song 99 Red Balloons.

The song was simple, sweet, and catchy. I heard it on local radio stations growing up, the band came to town (Erie, PA) a few times and I regret never making the time to see them now that I look back. But when I got a little older and found the album, I was thrilled to own it. I bought the CD on eBay when when I was older and still have it to this day. There are several more songs that will cut right to your core and it is clear that whichever band member wrote the lyrics was recalling specific moments and images from his life. The lyrics contain detailed images, and even references to those images… “in dreams I see his face / I recognize the place right next to / Dashboard Jesus” says the refrain in the song Rico.

Saturday Girl is another melancholy song which clearly deals with the pain and suffering of depression, from the point of someone who has either been hospitalized or institutionalized fighting the disease. Expecting her parents to come free her, but instead it seems they only visit on Saturdays. One verse has been so beautifully described it his played over and over in my mind for over a decade, now: “the ceiling reflects / headlights coming over the hill / she’s lying on her back / and she’s perfectly still / she knew they’d come back for her / but they fade out of sight.”

You’re not going to find this one easily, and it’s not being produced any more, so I would have to advise picking up a used copy and introducing yourself to Angry Salad.

2012 – Electric Guest – Mondo

I’m not going to go in to much detail about this week’s Music Monday post, because, frankly, I’ve only just heard the album myself. I’ve Electric Guest’s Mondo twice, and haven’t listened that closely – but my copy is in the mail on its way to me right now. I stumbled on to Electric Guest by chance in the last few weeks and heard the album once and immediately liked it. I listened to an MP3 download of it one more time and ordered my hard copy right away.

If absolutely nothing else, Mondo reminds me of the first MGMT album. It’s carefree, it’s fun, and it can be background noise at a party (the kind where you want to talk with your guests). It’s easy to relax to and doesn’t distract from anything else you may be doing. Maybe that doesn’t bode well for some artists, but that’s just the kind of music I’m in to these days. I’ll be completely honest – I haven’t concentrated much on the lyrics during either of my play throughs, but the vocals themselves are easy to listen to in a Dr. Dog or Mumford & Sons kind of way. The stand out signle looks like it’s going to be This Head I Hold, which may come across like Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, or a Cee Lo Green track, with a certain level of funk to it that I you can’t help but enjoy.

You had better strike while the iron is hot, though: Electric Guest really seems to know their audience. They don’t need to wait until their popular to target the crowd who knows what they want: Mondo just came out a week ago, is available in vinyl, and as of the time I’m writing this, there are only six vinyl copies left on Amazon.

1996 – CAKE – Fashion Nugget

In 1996, CAKE put out the album that a massive number of their fans agree is their finest album. It is the album that helped many people discover the band, and would likely only be rivaled in popularity by a later album, Comfort Eagle. Although I own and genuinely enjoy every single one of their albums (some of them autographed), I always come back to Fashion Nugget when I need a fix of twangy guitar and brass horns.

Although their website has been largely unchanged since the late 90’s when I first discovered it, it is an excellent source for news about the band and interesting polls which are generally a bit on the politically motivated side. Still, no matter where you fall from left to right, you can probably find something you like in the music of CAKE (who is on record as saying the name should always be printed in ALL UPPERCASE LETTERS – and in the Copperplate Gothic Bold font whenever possible).

The music has a delicious rock’n’roll flavor, a hint of country, and a punk rock message, with influences from practically every genre there is. You probably already know who CAKE is, and have probably have already heard Fashion Nugget. But the important question is: how recently have you heard Fashion Nugget?

Special note for our readers during this last week of April 2012, Fashion Nugget is one of Amazon.com’s $5 MP3 Albums.