Issue: #367


Madonna "Celebration DOUBLE CD AND DVD SET," Warner Bros.


  • Buju Banton "Rasta Got Soul," Gargamel
  • The Velleville Outfit "Time To Stand," Self-Released
  • The Greencards "Fascination," Sugar Hill/Welk
  • Joe Price "Rain or Shine," Blues Acres
  • Theory of Flight "Within Reach," Blue Beet

50 Cent "Before I Self-Destruct," Shady/Aftermath/Interscope/Universal

While 50 Cent has never been my cup of tea, Before I Self-Destruct is undeniably the pinnacle of 50's ability. By far the darkest album to date, this 2009 release compiles 16 tracks that obviously stem from the same roots of the past, but lacking a majority of the flaunting that made up so much of his previous albums.

Production, taken up primarily by Dr. Dre, Dj Khalil, along with 50 Cent himself, is miles beyond what has come thus far: interesting beats that are a good distance beyond the archetypal twenty-first century gangster rap that feel more stale then year-old bread. While he still has a lackluster flow and delivery that reminds me of Ma$e, perhaps the biggest embarrassment of the '90s, Before I Self-Destruct at least brings a less-than-inspiring style to an impressive height.

*****Shelton's Single of the Week: "So Far From The Clyde"*********

EDITOR'S NOTE: Will make you happy, and that's what music ought to do.

Maps "Turning The Mind," Mute

I have never thought of electronic shoegaze, but nothing has ever made more sense to me. Wave after wave of beautiful chords, backed only with mellow dance beats, Maps have set a new bar for both indie and electronic musicians. This is the best of all worlds.

The melodic groove induces a trance naturally, locking into the repetition and harmonies to bring that feeling that can only be found in great drone music. Turning The Mind is perfect.

Madonna "Celebration DOUBLE CD AND DVD SET," Warner Bros.

The most powerful diva in history has managed, yet again, to release a greatest hits album that I have found nothing to complain about. Madonna never gets old, never loses her appeal, and, with the massive progression in style that has transcended her individual identity, Celebration is interesting enough to listen to on repeat.

Going in reverse chronological order, the album opens with "Hung Up," the track that brought about her era of trance-techno. Mixed in with tracks like "Ray of Light," "Papa Don't Preach," and "Like a Virgin," the dynamic prowess of Madonna remains as focused today as she was 30 years ago. Includes three unreleased tracks, including "Revolver" featuring Lil Wayne.

******BEST ALBUM OF THE WEEK*********

Shelton's Single of the Week: "Hung Up"


All City Affairs "Identity Theft," Lujo

Solo electro-pop from Peter Andreadis' All City Affairs. With a serious singer/songwriter style, this album manages to hop right over the pitfalls by creating music that is stylistically his own yet still relying on the old working tricks.

Repetitive, vocal driven, and, if nothing else, better than what you will hear on any given day at your local coffee shop, Identity Theft makes the world seem good again.

Clipse "Til The Casket Drops," Columbia/Sony

Production makes or breaks hip-hop albums. Clipse, who could stand on their own two feet without the aid of names like Cam'ron, Kanye West, and Yo Gotti to back up their records, Sean "Diddy" Combs and The Neptunes work behind the scenes producing one of the most technically exciting hip-hop album of 2009.

Upbeat and fun, but not goofy, Til The Casket Drops sets into a groove and doesn't waiver. Just great hip-hop from beginning to end.

******ARTIST TO WATCH!!!*******************

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis "Music for the Motion Picture: The Road," Mute

Luckily steering clear of overhyped pop songs and mediocre indie jams, the soundtrack for Cormac McCarthy's genius book-turned-film was scored by none other than Nick Cave and Warren Ellis of Bad Seed fame.

Instead of music that lays irrelevant to the plot of the story, this classical soundtrack is nothing short of breathtaking: emotionally layed string orchestration driven by piano lines and harsh noise. Even detached from the movie, this is impeccable.

Lee Ann Womack "There's More Where That Came From," MCA Nashville

Unbeatable pop-country from Lee Ann Womack. While most pop artists performing folk tend to lay heavily on cheesy themes and predictable songs, Womack distances herself from this form with an aptitude for heartfelt tracks and melodies that resonate with even that large population who claim that "country sucks".

While they have obviously never heard Hank Williams, they would do themselves a favor by picking up There's More Where That Came From.

************LATE BUT GREAT***********

*******Shelton's Single of the Week: "ME AND JULIO DOWN BY THE SCHOOL YARD"**********


Dashboard Confessional "Alter The Ending (Deluxe) DOUBLE CD SET," DGC/Universal

It's been a long time since Dashboard Confessional made his name as the debut emo-pop punk acoustic act. Since then, Chris Carrabba has transformed his project from sappy love pop records to an epic rock-ensemble, attempting to retrace footsteps of The Weakerthans or Say Anything.

In many ways, Alter The Ending is a move for the best, creating a band that is dynamic enough to stand on its own. Though, the unbearable whine that is Carrabba's voice still manages to poke its ugly head up here and there on this album, making sure all the listeners know that Dashboard is still the same band from Drive Thru Records fame.

Impious "Death Domination," Metal Blade

Death metal has been a huge disappointment in the last few years (unless you count grind apostles Gridlink as death metal). Luckily, Impious is giving me faith in extreme music with great production.

Heavy, fast, and unrelenting, Death Domination is a blur of blast beats, shredding, and hard-as-nails vocals. I tend to be swayed mostly be the sound of the screamers voice,
so Impious's flawless high-low back and forth sets this album on a pedestal for me. While this is no Slaughter of the Soul, you might as well get used to this as the best 2009 has brought
us in death-metal.

**************MIGHTY MIGHTY**********************

Sam Bush "Circles Around Me," Sugar Hill/Welk

Founder of the "new grass" style, Sam Bush has been performing well over 20 years now, progressing with each new record produced. Circles Around Me is no exception: country songwriting navigating the spectrum of music, and bluegrass filling in the gaps. Not only does this manage to be original and emotional, it also sounds great! Another stellar record.

*******Shelton's Single of the Week: "SEEING STARS WITH PATTY GRIFFIN"**********

The Neighborhood Bullys "What?," Rankoutsider

Fun punky rock and roll from The Neighborhood Bullys. Despite having one of the most vanilla names in the history of punk, musically they make up for their shortcomings with a driving ride of distorted guitars, massive solos, and a dream that The Stooges were still playing.

While I think the record would have sounded better if all the members were shit-faced while recording, What? Is at least doing nothing wrong.

***********LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL*****************

Caroline Herring "Golden Apples of the Sun," Signature Sounds

Beautiful solo folk from Caroline Herring. Intensely personal songs about everything under the son, Golden Apples of the Sun is absolutely breathtaking. It is rare that a solo musician turns out an album as amazing as this, with not a single moment of mediocrity or dull sounds.

Pete Seeger "Live in '65 DOUBLE CD," Appleseed

There is nothing worth saying here. Pete Seeger is one of the best songwriters in history, performing in a style that is the pinnacle of western civilization. One of the few instances where "live" is worth listening, Live in '65 is worth every penny.

************POLITICAL ALBUM OF THE WEEK*******************

******Shelton's Single of the Week: "The Freedom Come-All-Ye"*************


Glee Cast "Glee: the Music, Vol. 1," Fox/Columbia/Sony

This is my worst nightmare. I had no idea that a show about drama kids existed, but as a recovering high school graduate, I was hoping to have burn the images of musicals and self-absorbed awkward youth from my memory.

The show sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, while the soundtrack comes in a close second. Taking the classic drama-kid sap songs, ranging from Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" to West's "Gold Digger," the cast of Glee, armed with the most powerful auto-tune known to humanity, covers these tracks in entirety with added backing choruses. This will haunt my nightmares for the next year.

Dana Hall "Into The Light," Origin

With a percussionist as the bandleader, doodling seems only appropriate. Opening with a piece by Herbie Hancock, Into The Light by Dana Hall is not only more interesting than the vast majority of jazz we get here at JSITop21, but noticeably more fine-tuned as well. 9 tracks of upbeat, high-energy jazz with an emphasis on free-form drumming and soul influence. Highly recommended.

**************** NEW ALBUM OF THE WEEK**********

Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses "Roadhouse Sun," Lost Highway/Universal

I am openly not an avid country listener. I certainly like a lot, and wouldn't say that I dislike most of it, but for the most part it just isn't my thing. I don't go home and listen to a country CD or make a playlist involving more than a few songs here and there.

The exception to this rule is Roadhouse Sun, a tale of psychological anguish through the voice of Ryan Bingham. I truly think depression makes better music, and this is a perfect example. A good majority of the tracks are about one hardship or another, and all eloquently portrayed with raw emotion.

He sings straight-forward, which equates to an incredibly gruff voice that carries all of his turmoil from song to song. There's a strong western influence here, and maybe even a stronger folk flair lingering in there with him. The music all has a driving feel to it, and he accents his singing with a sort of swinging guitar rhythm. Original and interesting, as well as heartfelt? This may be the first!

Snow Patrol "Up To Now DOUBLE CD ," Geffen/Universal

A favorites collection, Up To Now sums up Snow Patrol in its entirety: dynamic and intense indie pop tracks with intelligent construction and original composition.

This is the brand of indie rock that should have become the dominant descendent of Joy Division, rather than The Arcade Fire and the like. This is an amazing introduction to this genius indie band.

Night on Earth "Second Hand," Upstar/SIN/Greece/Sony

Self proclaimed post-music group Night on Earth are more than you could ever dream for. Slightly jazz, fairly ambient, and a good amount of sound manipulation to boot, Second Hand is a nightterror in the best way imaginable.

While musically beautiful from beginning to end, there remains an eerie feeling running underneath the entire composition. With stunning female vocals sparsely laid throughout, if you want something to push the bounds of what music is, look no further.

"SO NICE GOTTA DO IT UP TWICE" (created by the original NYC D.J., Jocko, 1955)

EDITOR'S NOTE: He drives around aimlessly - feeling there's no way to be in his kind of hell, no way to extinguish a
flame that burns, burns, burns.

Hollywood Undead "Desperate Measures," A&M/Octone/Universal

This band is a disaster. Dumb masks, dumb music, and offensive lyrics that aren't even witty. While Brokencyde may take the award for the worst record of 2009, Hollywood Undead at least gets honorary title of "Band that is Trying Waaay Too Hard". This album makes me want to die.

******Shelton's Single of the Week: "Why I'm Leaving"*************

Muse "The Resistance," Helium/Warner Bros

Eerie indie rock from England's The Muse. The Resistance, an ambitious attempt at an electronic concept album has succeeded, if nothing else, in creating an album different from their previous works that still matches the intensity and melodic knack that they have grounded their fame on.

Early tracks on the record feel similar to their previous work, although almost entirely electronic. The later half of the record, entitled "Exogenesis," is a three part symphony orchestrated like any classical electronic composition should be: unbelievably epic, dynamic, and nothing short of genius. While the album, as a whole, feels a bit choppy, these last three tracks makes the package worth it.

Il Divo "Live in Barcelona CD/DVD SET," Syco/Columbia/Sony

I feel mixed about this. Yes, this music is beautiful, and the talent needed to craft tracks as seamless as this is a skill that I could not even fathom. Each male performer are world-class vocalists who could write the books on singing on key.

But does skill and beauty makes something good? I don't think so. I'm sure some people must love this more than anything, but, especially as a live recording, I am too bored to even fall asleep.

***************If You Like Music You're Gonna Love This******************

******Shelton's Single of the Week: "INVINCIBLE"*************


Artist: John Fogerty
Song: "I Can't Take It No More"


I Can't Take It No More
I Can't Take It No More
I'm sick and tired of your dirty little war
I Can't Take It No More

You know you lied about the casualties
You know you lied about the WMD's
You know you lied about the detainees
All over this world

Stop talking about staying the course
You keep a-beating that old dead horse
You know you lied about how we went to war
I Can't Take It No More

I can't take it
I can't take it

I bet you never saw the old school yard
I bet you never saw the national guard
Your daddy wrote a check and there you are
Another fortunate son

I can't take it no more
I can't take it no more
I'm sick and tired of your dirty little war
I can't take it no more

I can't take it no more
I can't take it no more
I'm sick and tired of your dirty little war
I can't take it no more