Archive for the ‘Lists’ Category


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(I do not own this image)

Well, ladies and gentleman, it’s that time of year again.  The winter months are upon us as is the end of the year, bringing snow, holiday spirit, eggnog, and countless “Best of 2013” lists. 2013 has come and gone and left us with an expansive library of new music through which to sift.  Naturally, as has been the case in the past two years, I have compiled my list of the absolute best albums of the past year as well as a list of other solid releases.   This year’s list proved more difficult to compile than those in the past for several reasons.  2013 saw the return of many long-absent artists, releasing massively hyped comeback albums that, often times, simply did not meet the high expectations set.  Case in point: David Bowie’s The Next Day, The Strokes’ Comedown Machine and Black Sabbath’s 13.  Additionally, as exemplified by the weak Grammy nominations, the quality of music simply was not as high or consistent as it has been in the past years.  While many, many decent albums were released in 2013, only a few were truly stupendous.  Moreover, the “best of” a mediocre year could include several mediocre records.  Thus, I believe that to make this list, an album has to truly be remarkable, which explains the awkward number of albums included. Keeping that in mind, below are the Sound Hound’s six favorite albums of the year from bottom to top.

#6. True – Avicii

(I do not own this image)

(I do not own this image)

This past year certainly saw a change in the electronic dance music world.  The genre continued to dominate the musical world, but dubstep was pushed aside for rap and more experimental releases.  That being said, don’t write off the Swede’s newest album just because you have no interest in hearing any more now standard fist-pumping dance numbers like his first hit, “Levels.” On the contrary, on his full-length debut, Avicii, in a bold and unprecedented move, mixed country, disco, funk and soul into his increasingly popular house music.  The record includes many incredible standout tunes such as the enormous lead single, “Wake Me Up,” the dramatic “Hey Brother,” “You Make Me,” the classic-sounding “Dear Boy,” “Shame On Me,” and the instrumental “Heart Upon My Sleeve.”  The album is unique in this world of consistent electronica that seems to blend into each other from one song to the next.  True shows that Avicii knows no limits, feels restricted by no musical guidelines and is a tremendously talented songwriter.

#5: Paradise Valley – John Mayer

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(I do not own this image)

John Mayer has come a long way from being that obnoxious pretty-boy with an acoustic guitar he was on the eve of the release the try-hard sensitive pop hit, “My Body is a Wonderland.”  We have all watched as Mayer has evolved to the point of embracing country-roots on his previous and underrated record, Born and Raised.  However, on 2013’s quick and direct Paradise Valley, Mayer combines his newfound love of country with his pop and blues beginnings.  From the first jangling notes of the opener, “Wildfire” through the delicate “Paper Doll,” the beautiful duet with ex-girlfriend Katy Perry on “Who You Love” and the acoustic noodling of the penultimate “Badge and Gun,” Mayer shows of his chops and his incredible ability to write a beautiful love song.  The album is consistent from start to finish and wonderfully exemplifies the songwriter’s wide range of musical tastes, while maintaining an unmistakably Mayer-esque vibe.

#4: Yeezus – Kanye West

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(I do not own this image)

I needed a few listens to properly digest Kanye West’s Yeezus, and when I compared it to Jay-Z’s Magna Carta…Holy Grail in The Brandeis Hoot I was still not a fan.  However, after listening to the album many more times and seeing it performed live, I finally was able to appreciate the genius of Yeezus.  What Kanye West has done on this record will change rap music forever.  Many rap artists will release a record with 12 to 15 heavily produced tracks highlighted by catchy hooks sung by other superstars.  However, Yeezus stresses minimalism in its musicality and anger and strength in vocal delivery.  While much of lyrical content leaves a lot to be desire, that combination becomes very powerful.  West and producer Rick Rubin pooling from electronic house music, reggatone, grueling electric guitar, swirling indie rock and bass-heavy gangster rap to create backbeats that are unlike anything the rap game has ever heard before.  The only reason Yeezus is not at the top of this list is the lack of lyrical focus, poorly written punch lines and its general theme of arrogant self-worship.  Otherwise, the record is a true work of art.

#3:  Random Access Memories – Daft Punk

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(I do not own this image)

Random Access Memories, French electronic duo Daft Punk’s first album in eight years, was met with mixed reception.  The music world was , if not expecting, then hoping, for a record filled with classic electric dance synths, Daft Punk’s crazy samples and plenty of funky beats.  Much to everyone’s surprise, Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter strayed from their usual tendencies and recruited an army of experienced studio musicians including Chic’s Niles Rogers, and drum kings of the recording world (get names) to track a mellow disco-pop album with a hint of electronica.  After listening to Random Access Memories objectively and accepting the fact that Daft Punk has not released another standard electronic album, it becomes clear that the record is simply fantastic.  The Parisians put out a solid stream of tightly delivered pop songs that both display their love for disco and funk and their sheer brilliance in composition.  The musicianship is simply outstanding and mixes many genres including traces of classical orchestration.  Nearly every song is a winner, but some standout moments include the dramatic opener, “Give Life Back to Music,” “Fragments of Time,” the jam section on “Giorgio by Moroder,” the hit of the summer, “Get Lucky,” the slow whirrings of “Beyond” and the team-up with Animal Collective’s Panda Bear on “Doin’ It Right.”  While totally different from Daft Punk’s earlier material, Random Access Memories is the band’s best work, second only to 2000’s Discovery.

#2: Modern Vampires of the City – Vampire Weekend

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(I do not own this image)

Vampire Weekend has never been cited for creating the most technically complex music.  However, as the band’s excellent third release, Modern Vampires of the City shows, the group possesses a talent for building and experiment upon the standard “indie” sound, adding African rhythms, deep organs, electronic synths, vocal effects and utilizing a general appreciation for Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel.  With the help of such creative devises, Vampire Weekend have crafted a composed group of songs ranging from terrific rockers “Unbelievers,” “Worship You” and “Diane Young,” gentle and beautiful numbers including “Step” and “Hannah Hunt” and the bizarre, reggae-influenced “Ya Hey.”  Each song on the album is quite beautifully composed, both lyrically and musically and shows that the boys of Vampire Weekend are in fact quite talented songwriters.  Though not as poppy and straightforward as the band’s self-titled 2008 debut, Modern Vampires of the City is Vampire Weekend’s most mature, well-developed and finest work to date.

#1: …Like Clockwork – Queens of the Stone Age

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(I do not own this image)

In 2011, The Sound Hound named The Foo Fighters’ Wasting Light the best album, without a second thought.  Similarly, as soon as I first listened to Queens of the Stone Age’s newest, …Like Clockwork, I knew nothing could possibly surpass its greatness.  Maybe a couple records would come close, but like Wasting Light, …Like Clockwork was consistently fantastic from start to finish.  The musicianship on …Like Clockwork is literally perfect.  The quintet have unparalleled musical chemistry and are able to establish killer grooves with various superstars all across the record including Elton John, the Arctic Monkeys’ Turner, drummer Dave Grohl and Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, amongst others.  Furthermore, Homme displays his weathered talent for writing vivid, intense and poetic lyrics on every song that perfectly reflect each song’s musical mood. Every song brings a new perspective on rock music to the listener’s attention while retaining a unified sound throughout.  Yes, you can sift through the album looking for standout tracks that resemble the band’s earlier hits, like “No One Knows” or “Little Sister,” but …Like Clockwork is best appreciated as a full album. The record starts with the slow and ominously grueling “Keep Your Eyes Peeled,” shifting quickly but cohesively into the faster-paced “I Sat By The Ocean.”  While the two first tracks both sound as different from each other as they do from the stellar and epic “I Appear Missing,” or “Smooth Sailing,” every song on …Like Clockwork sounds unmistakably like a Queens of the Stone Age song.  Lately, many alternative rock bands have begun to all sound the same, but Queens of the Stone Age have managed to release a evolve internally and establish a sound distinct from their contemporaries, while simultaneously maintaining a familiar vibe that “goes down easily,” per se.


Honorable Mentions

I feel as though several fun and solid albums that perhaps are not quite legendary enough to fit into the above list hit the shelves this past year and I’d like to take a moment and mention them now.

Magna Carta…Holy Grail ­– Jay Z:

Notable tracks: “Holy Grail (feat. Justin Timberlake),”Picasso Baby,” “Tom Ford,” “Oceans (feat. Frank Ocean),” “Nickels and Dimes”

Old – Danny Brown:

Notable Tracks: “25 Bucks (feat. Purity Ring),” Side B (Dope Song),” “Dip,” “Smokin & Drinkin”

Sound City – Real to Reel – Dave Grohl & The Sound City Players:

Notables Tracks: “Mantra,” “The Man That Never Was,” “From Can to Can’t,” “Cut Me Some Slack,” “Your Wife is Calling,” “Centipede,” “You Can’t Fix This”

20/20 Experience – Parts 1 & 2 – Justin Timberlake:

Notable Tracks: “Pusher Love Girl,” “Let the Groove Get In,” “Mirrors,” “That Girl,” “Take Back the Night,” “Gimme’ What I Don’t Know (I Want)”

Settle – Disclosure:

Notable Tracks: “When A Fire Starts to Burn,” “F For You,” “Stimulation,” “Latch (feat. Sam Smith),” “White Noise (feat. Aluna George)”

Save Rock and Roll – Fall Out Boy:

Notable Tracks: “The Phoenix,” “Save Rock and Roll,” “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em’ Up),” “Alone Together”

Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action – Franz Ferdinand

Notable Tracks: “Love Illumination,” “Evil Eye,” “Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action”

Signed and Sealed in Blood ­– Dropkick Murphys:

Notable Tracks: “The Boys are Back,” “Rose Tattoo,” “Jimmy Collins’ Wake”

Grammy Picks 2013

Posted: January 18, 2013 in Editorials, Lists, News Updates
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With the bitter cold winter every year comes the various award shows, including the music industry’s respective incarnation, The Gramophone Awards, or The Grammys for short.  Below is a link to my hopes (not predictions) for the 2013 Grammy outcomes.

The Best Albums of 2012

Posted: January 1, 2013 in Editorials, Lists
Joseph Sirucka/Creative Commons

Joseph Sirucka/Creative Commons

2012 was certainly a tremendous year between the world failing to end, regardless of the ancient Mayas’ prediction, the true emergence of new forms of popular music, specifically K-Pop and electronica, reunions and breakups of major groups and new music by many older artists, topped off by the birth of many celebrity children.

Thus, before 2013 starts really moving, we at The Sound Hound would like to reflect upon the cream of the crop of the past year, the best releases of 2012.

The following two lists, the “Best of” and the “Honorable Mentions,” were relatively difficult to compose.  Unlike last year, 2012 saw the release of many strong records, though a single one failed to stand out as the absolute best album of the year.  In other words, the over quality of music was less concentrated than it has been in past years.  Nonetheless, we managed to pull through and select the top ten albums of 2012 as well as ten records we would like to mention honorably.

Best of:

1. Wrecking Ball – Bruce Springsteen


2. channel ORANGE – Frank Ocean


3. Tempest – Bob Dylan


4. The Heist – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis


5. Blunderbuss – Jack White


6.  The 2nd Law – Muse


7. King Animal – Soundgarden


8. Night Visions – Imagine Dragons


9. Boys & Girls – Alabama Shakes


10. Some Nights – fun.


Honorable Mentions:


Living Things – Linkin Park

Songs to check out: Lost in the Echo, Burn it Down, Lies, Greed, Misery


Master of my Make Believe – Santigold

Songs to check out: GO!, Disparate Youth, Keepers


My Head is an Animal – Of Monsters and Men

Songs to check out: Dirty Paws, Little Talks, King and Lionheart


Kanye West Presents Good Music Cruel Summer – Kanye West and G.O.O.D. Music

Songs to check out: Clique, Mercy, New God Flow, Cold, Don’t Like


Hot Cakes  – The Darkness

Songs to check out: Every Inch of You, Street Spirit (Fade Out), With a Woman


Rize of the Fenix – Tenacious D

Songs to check out: Rize of the Fenix, Low Hanging Fruit, They F**ked out A*ses, Throw Down


What We Saw From the Cheap Seats – Regina Spektor

Songs to check out: Small Town Moon, Don’t Leave Me (Ne me quitte passé), All the Rowboats, Ballad of a Politician


That’s Why God Made the Radio – The Beach Boys

Songs to check out: That’s Why God Made the Radio, Spring Vacation, The Private Life of Bill and Sue, Isn’t it Me


Overexposed – Maroon 5

Songs to check out: Payphone, Lucky Strike, One More Night


The Lumineers – The Lumineers

Songs to check out: Ho Hey, Flowers in Your Hair, Submarines



Recently, The Sound Hound posted its list of the best albums of 2011.  Some albums that may not have been good enough to make it to that list, however, may have one or two excellent songs.  To advertise those songs and further advertise the songs that may be been included on Sound Hound’s previous list, I have posted a new list below of Sound Hounds 25 Favorite Songs of 2011. These are the songs that got stuck in my head the most this year….

In alphabetical order by artist:

Rolling in the Deep – Adele

Make Some Noise – The Beastie Boys

Gold on the Ceiling – The Black Keys

Lonely Boy – The Black Keys

After Midnight – Blink 182

In Your Life – Bottaboom

Blue Tip – The Cars

Bonfire – Childish Gambino

Freaks and Geeks – Childish Gambino

Every Teardrop is a Waterfall – Coldplay

Paradise – Coldplay

Rox in the Box – The Decemberists

These Days – Foo Fighters

Walk – Foo Fighters

The Summer Place – Fountains of Wayne

Irresistible Force – Jane’s Addiction

Six Foot Seven Foot – Lil Wayne

Holdin’ On To Black Metal – My Morning Jacket

City Kids – OCD: Moosh & Twist

Dream On – OCD: Moosh & Twist

Look Around – The Red Hot Chili Peppers

Machu Picchu – The Strokes

No Church in the Wild – The Throne

Can a Drummer Get Some – Travis Barker

Second Song – TV on the Radio

2011’s Best Albums

Posted: December 16, 2011 in Lists, Reviews

2011 has come to a close and so I compile my first of hopefully many “Best of” lists.  Included are my favorite albums of the year as well as other good records that have a few solid tracks.

The Best albums of 2011: These ones win for being great in every category.  Now, what do I mean by “great?”


1. I love more than half the songs on the record and somewhat like all of them (based on lyrical quality, musical quality and catchiness.)

2. The album has consistency: the songs work well together

3. Quality of the record’s overall sound

So here we go: The Sound Hound’s Best Albums of 2011:

1. Wasting Light – Foo Fighters

2. El Camino – Black Keys

3. Curcuital – My Morning Jacket

4. I’m With You – Red Hot Chili Peppers

5.  Camp – Childish Gambino

6. Angles – The Strokes

7. 21 – Adele

8. Mylo Xyloto – Coldplay

Other albums with some good tracks

Watch The Throne – Jay-Z and Kanye West

Songs I like: “No Church in the Wild,” “Otis,” “N***as in Paris,” “H.A.M.”

Give The Drummer Some – Travis Barker

Songs I like: “Can the Drummer Get Some,” “Knockin’,” “Let’s Go,” “Carry It”

Neighborhoods – Blink 182

Songs I like: “After Midnight,” “Up All Night,” Ghost on the Dance Floor,” “Heart’s All Gone”

Nine Types of Light – TV On The Radio

Songs I like: “Second Song,” “Keep Your Heart,” “Will Do,” “Caffeinated Consciousness”

Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 – The Beastie Boys

Songs I like: “Make Some Noise,” “Say It,” “Ok,” “Nonstop Disco Powerpack”

The Great Escape Artist – Jane’s Addiction

Songs I like: “Irresistible Force,” “Underground,” “End to the Lies”

Suck it and See – Arctic Monkeys

Songs I like: “Suck it and See,” “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair,” “Brick by Brick”

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Songs I like: “Calgary,” “Towers,” “Beth/Rest”

Yes, it’s that time of year: the Grammy Nominations for the 2010-2011 music year have been released, and I must say, the committee usually tends to disappoint but this year, those nominated are all really deserving.   As I tweeted upon hearing the list, this is probably the most impressed I’ve ever been with the nominations but since so many great artists are up for awards, it is not so easy to predict the winners, especially considering Arcade Fire’s major upset in the 2009-2010 “Album of the Year” category.  Nonetheless, I’m going to’ give predictions my best shot.  I’m also going to list who and why I think should win or wish would win (this is my opinion and you’re allowed to disagree but this is my blog so don’t go crazy with angry comments.)

Album of the Year

Nominees: Adele – 21, Foo Fighters – Wasting Light, Lady Gaga – Born This Way, Bruno Mars – Doo-Wops & Hooligans, Rihanna – Loud

Who Will Probably Win: Adele will probably win.  Firstly, 21’s been in the top 10 list since the record debuted.  Secondly, it’s a great album filled with beautiful, mind-blowing performances by Adele—what a voice she’s got!  She’s really helped bring the music industry out of the toilet by her successful record sales and extensive world tour.

Who I Think Should Win: Needless to say, I am rooting for the Foo Fighters all the way.  Dave and the gang are certainly one of my favorite bands and Wasting Light, in my opinion, is their only album on which every song is a killer.  From start to finish, the Foos prove why rock and roll is the dirtiest, most lawless, most powerful, but most poetic genre of music.  Finally, Wasting Light is the only album I have ever purchased with my own money that I earned myself.  Just a fun fact.

Record of the Year

Nominees: Adele – “Rolling in the Deep,” Bon Iver – “Holocene,” Bruno Mars – “Grenade,” Mumford & Sons – “The Cave,” Katy Perry – “Firework”

Who Will Probably Win: I’m putting my money on Adele for the same reasons I think she’ll win Album of the Year.  “Rolling in the Deep” is a great song on every level and that’s really what this category looks for.

Who I Think Should Win: In all honesty, Adele is totally deserving of this award but I think that Mumford & Songs are equally so.  “The Cave” is beautifully written, performed and produced.  “Holocene’s” not bad either. “Grenade” and “Firework” are way too cheesy to be considered the best record released all year—no way.

Song of the Year

Nominees: Kanye West – “All of the Lights,” Mumford & Sons – “The Cave,” Bruno Mars – “Grenade,” Bon Iver – “Holocene,” Adele – “Rolling in the Deep”

Who Will Probably Win: Either Kanye or Adele.

Who I Think Should Win: This award is more focused on the songwriting and in my opinion; “The Cave” takes that hands down.  “All of the Lights” is good, but it’s not even my favorite on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

Best Rock Performance

Nominees: Coldplay – “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall,” The Decemberists – “Down By The Water,” Foo Fighters – “Walk,” Mumford & Sons – “The Cave,” Radiohead – “Lotus Flower”

Who Will Probably Win: It’s hard to say who will win for this award.  I could see Coldplay, Foo Fighters or Radiohead taking it, leaning towards the latter two.

Who I Think Should Win: “Walk” is the best rock song of the year.  Period.  “Every Teardrop” is good, but nowhere near “Walk’s” caliber.

Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance

Nominees: Dream Theater – “On The Backs Of Angels,” Foo Fighters – “White Limo,” Mastodon – “Curl of the Burl,” Megadeth – “Public Enemy No. 1,” Sum 41 – “Blood in My Eyes”

Who Will Probably Win: I’d be very surprised if anyone aside from the Foo Fighters wins this.

Who I Think Should Win: “White Limo,” please.

Best Rock Album

Nominees: Jeff Beck – Rock ‘N’ Roll Party Honoring Les Paul, Foo Fighters – Wasting Light, Kings Of Leon– “Come Around Sundown,” Red Hot Chili Peppers – I’m With You, Wilco – The Whole Love

Who Will Probably Win: If the Foo Fighters do not win “Album of the Year,” then I’m going to hand them this award right now.  If they do, however, win the big award, then Wilco has a pretty god chance.

Who I Think Should Win: In my perfect world, the Foos would win both “Best Album” and “Best Rock Album,” but the Grammys don’t really do that (see the Arcade Fire situation from last year.)  So, I’m hoping the Foos don’t win this and do win “Best Album” so the Red Hot Chili Peppers can take this one home.

Best Alternative Music Album

Nominees: Bon Iver – Bon Iver, Death Cab for Cutie – Codes and Keys, Foster the People ­– Torches, My Morning Jacket – Circuital, Radiohead – The King of Limbs.

Who Will Probably Win: This is another tough one to predict.  Foster the People had a massive year and the industry loves Radiohead but in the critics’ eyes, none match Bon Iver for quality.

Who I Think Should Win: My Morning Jacket had the best alternative music album of the year.  Period.  Circuital is massive and even better in concert.

Best Rap Song

Nominees: Kanye West – “All of the Lights,” Wiz Khalifa – “Black and Yellow,” Dr. Dre – “I Need a Doctor,” Chris Brown – “Look at Me Now,” Jay-Z & Kanye West – “Otis,” Lupe Fiasco – “The Show Goes On”

Who Will Probably Win: Kanye made the best rap song of the year.  Otis is a competitor, though I don’t think Kanye is rooting for one or the other.

Who I Think Should Win: Either Kanye or Kanye & Jay-Z A.K.A. The Throne had two of the tightest rap songs this year.

Best Rap Album

Nominees: Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch the Throne, Lil’ Wayne – Tha Carter IV, Lupe Fiasco – Lasers, Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday, Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Who Will Probably Win: Kanye will probably win based on the fact that fans, critics, and even people that do not usually follow Kanye consider Fantasy a masterpiece.  It is a beautiful piece of work.  But considering last year’s verdicts, maybe The Throne or Nicki Minaj will take it—who knows?  I don’t even know why Weezy’s up for this…

Who I Think Should Win: Kanye.  Hands down.

Those are all the categories in which I am personally interested.  If you want to know my opinion about another category, let me know via the Comments Section, Facebook or Twitter.

I’ve always hated when one song by an artist becomes popular and overplayed, allowing other terrific songs to become overlooked.  So, below is my non-definitive list of underrated standouts.

In alphabetical order by artist:

Lovesong – Adele: A beautiful cover of a song by The Cure.  Adele just puts so much soul into the performance.

City With No Children – Arcade Fire:  A truly powerful song, not to mention the cool backing guitar.

Story of a Lonely Guy – Blink 182:  I honestly don’t understand why this isn’t one of their hits–it’s a great tune with classic hook that rocks like any Blink song.

Wendy Clear – Blink 182:  One of my favorite Blink riffs.

My City of Ruins – Bruce Springsteen:  I cannot express how beautiful and meaningful this song is.  It’s a shame Bruce never plays it live.

Know Your Rights – The Clash:  The skull-crushing opener to the band’s hit album Combat Rock.

Low – Foo Fighters:  Ominous but very cool riff.  One of my favorites off One By One.

Bright Future in Sales – Fountains of Wayne: Easily one of FOW’s best songs.

Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick – Ian Dury & The Blockheads: A cult classic. ‘Nuff said.

All These Things That I’ve Done – The Killers:  An epic!  This is The Killers’ “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

The Story in Your Eyes – Moody Blues:  Great guitar and some really great lyrics.

Endlessly – Muse:  A slow-cooker that leaves you in tears.

Sunshine on Leith – The Proclaimers:  A real beauty by a band only know for “500 Miles,” which appeared in the movie Benny and Joon.

Mellowship Slinky in B Major – The Red Hot Chili Peppers:  Pure Chilis funk.  You just can’t go wrong.

Readymade – The Red Hot Chili Peppers:  “Aw, clean it up, Johnny,” shouts singer Anthony Keidis just before guitarist John Frusciante delivers one of the best solos of his career.

Teacher Teacher – Rockpile:  No one knows this band, yet this is somehow one of the catchiest songs I’ve ever heard.

Mind Bender – Stillwater:  Director Cameron Crowe based the fictional band in his classic Almost Famous off this terrific blues-rock band that is as musically talented as the Allman Brothers.

Border Crossing – Throwback: This one is for all the indie lovers.  The drummer went to my camp.

Tweeter and the Monkey Man – The Traveling Wilburies:  The most amazing supergroup ever, consisting of Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne, is also one of rock’s most under-respected bands.