No, that picture above is not Ernest Hemingway and Steve Earle’s love child. It is in fact uber-producer Rick Rubin, the man who has successfully navigated alt-rock, hip-hop, country, and just about every other genre in music with startling success. Currently on Rubin’s radar is helping Kanye fine-tune Yeezus, easily the most eagerly awaited hip-hop album of 2013. This is interesting, because Kanye has always been a bit of a “do-it-your-selfer” which has served him very very well. It makes sense though to bring in the man who produced some Public Enemy, Beastie Boys and Run D.MC. when Kanye is aiming for a more minimalist experience (explained more fully in the New York Times interview). This minimalism Ye is going for highlights an overriding theme for the albums on our list: Strip down artists to their most raw and basic qualities and build the album up from there. Rubin may not have one musical style he can be attached to, but there does seem to be a way of making music that is very clear.
We tried to limit this list to albums Rubin had a large hand in producing, leaving off the likes of Jay-Z’s Black Album and JT’s FutureSex/LoveSounds where he only produced one track each. We also left off sure top-5 Lucinda Williams album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road because Rubin only handled the mixing of the album. The only other major qualm people might have with this list is the lack of a Slayer album. Well, I personally just don’t like metal, and so even if Slayer is the cream of the crop, I’m not gonna listen to it. Enjoy the list, and as always feel free to comment on albums you think we missed or erroneously included.
10. The Black Crowes – Shake Your Money Maker
Interestingly, I read Rick Rubin wouldn’t allow his name to be put on as producer of Shake Your Money Maker until it sold one million copies. Was he not happy with the outcome? Did he think it was destined for commercial and/or critical failure? I don’t know, but I do know The Black Crowes in 1990 did The Stones better than The Stones were doing themselves. With the alternative scene blowing up at the time, Shake Your Money Maker was a nice respite from the uniformity of most everything else out there.
Summer of ’69. Boys of Summer. Under the Boardwalk. Summer in the City. Wipeout. These are all hugely famous summer songs, and strange enough, you won’t find a single one on this week’s Top Ten Thursday: The Best Summer Songs. Not that all these are bad songs, but we just happened to find ten better songs for you to jam to now that things start to heat up. Last year, we gave you the best summer albums, and this year we give you the best songs to get your summer off to the right start.
Ohh, the nineties. How we all miss the “whatever, who cares” attitude you bestowed upon our generation. Baggy shirts, and even even baggier pants. The rebirth of “chucks” and a noisy, dirty, fuzzy new breadth of music that will never be forgotten. Not to mention other rarities in music that can never be replicated, and will always be legendary. Alanis Morissette may not have made the list, but her new release this week was the inspiration for it. Our criteria for the list was simple: nineties tunnel vision. This means that we had to block out any knowledge of anything that happened outside of 1990-1999. For example, the Beastie Boys were prevalent in the nineties, but how did their nineties material stack up against the rest? This list is for the bands that we felt left their strongest marks on the decade with no regard. As per usual, let us know if you agree.
In a concerted effort to make it seem we do not take ourselves too seriously, perhaps out of a fear of taking ourselves too seriously sometimes, we like to mix up our more scholarly lists with those that make us out to be a handful of nerdy jackasses. This is one of those lists. There has been a lot of hysteria surrounding superhero movies this summer. I mean, damn, a Batman, Spiderman, and Avengers movies all in the same summer. We are all extremely partial to Batman, especially those of the Nolan/Burton persuasion, and decided to save this dopey collection for around the time The Dark Knight Rises was released. As comic-book/superhero movie fans, we thought we could fantasize a little bit about which musicians would make the best superheroes, and speculate a little bit about their key attributes. For awhile there, we considered doing a joint heroes/villains list, but ultimately decided to make two separate lists, with the heroes list today, and the villains list coming at you next Thursday. Enjoy.
So here we are, deep into this relentlessly hot and sticky summer of 2012, and hopefully you are enjoying it as much as we are. It’s the time of the year for swimming pools and popsicles, baseball and biking, and sweating your ass off not matter what, no matter where. Thus we bring you our favorite albums to accompany such occasions. What makes a summer album you ask? In our opinion it is somewhat upbeat, but not overly so. Something that you can groove too whether you’re too hot to do so or not. Since I was a young lad, Austin was only knee high to a grasshopper, and Wes was just a Pooh-cub scrounging for honey, there have always been these certain songs, artist, and albums that have always left their impression on our young summers. So we decided to list out some of our favorites. Making a particularly strong appearance are some favorites from the nineties. We aren’t really sure why, but I suppose some nineties artist just really know how to set the tone for a particular summer mood. Please feel free to tell us what does it for you …