Sometimes I get tired of writing about work related stuff. This is how you market a company, blah, blah, blah... This is why we've been successful, blah, blah, blah. I have two extracurricular passions in life. Sports and music. If Old Hat hadn't specialized in sports, we'd be specializing in music. There's never a time that I don't have a song playing in my head and although I always sucked at making music, I've loved it my entire life. Life's big joke on me is being born with an unbelievable desire to sing and absolutely no talent in doing so. Anyway, in today's blog I decided to countdown what are, in my opinion, the top 10 albums of the past 10 years. The easy part of this task will be that I don't listen to much new music. I'm more of a classic rock guy. So I don't have a wide selection to pull from. Over the past 10 years, I really haven't listened to much new stuff. The hard part of this task will be that... well... I haven't listened to much new music. And before you criticize me for that, it's not that I haven't given new music a chance. I'm an extremely picky person in all aspects of my life and music does not get a pass. Most of what I hear, I don't like. And when I do like an album, I listen to it incessantly unti I know every lyric, every change, every bass line, etc. I immerse myself in it. These albums are 10 that I was able to do that with. They are listed from oldest to newest... not from least favorite to favorite. Here we go.
1. The White Stripes - Elephant
Technically this album was released more than 10 years ago but it was in 2003 so I'm counting it. Also counting it because it was the first White Stripes album that I really gave a listen to and it's what started my complete and total obsession for everything Jack White does. I think Jack is a genius and probably the most important musician on the scene today. This album introduced me to his genius. You still hear the opening guitar line from Seven Nation Army at many sporting events and the heavy blues-influence in Ball and Biscuit and The Hardest Button to Button make this a truly unbelievable album. The only thing that gets this album a rating of 9 rather than a 10 is the fact that there are a couple of throwaway songs on here. Don't let Meg sing, Jack. Just dont. It hurts my heart that The White Stripes are no longer making music together. Rating: 9 out of 10
2. Tool - 10,000 Days
This was not one of the most-loved album by Tool, especially by lifelong Tool fans. Fortunately, I'm not a lifelong Tool fan. I like a few select songs from their previous albums but this was actually the first Tool CD I ever purchased. And I thought it was phenomenal. Vicarious, Jambi, The Pot and Rosetta Stoned are all really good songs but 10,000 Days (Wings Part 2) might be one of the most well-crafted songs I've ever heard in my life. It's the only 11-minute song that I think is worth all 11 minutes. The problem is, Tool has this reputation of being a band for this select group of angry 15-year-old boys that wear black all the time. And that might be who they appeal to most. But don't let that deter you from giving them a try. This is great jogging music too because it really makes you want to get moving. Rating: 9 out of 10
3. The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers
There are very few albums that I would ever rank as a 10 out of 10. Pink Floyd's The Wall, Led Zeppelin 1-4... and that's about all. To be a 10, an album has to be completely withouth flaw from start to finish. Those albums qualify. And so does this one. I could go song by song and talk about the level of genius in all of them but I won't. Another Jack White offering, this CD isn't for everyone. You have to love his style. But something about mixing his style with Brendan Benson, the co-frontman of The Raconteurs, is a recipe for greatness. Intimate Secretary, Store Bought Bones and Level are 3 great songs off this album. And it ends with a spine-tingling Blue Veins that I'm in awe of every time I listen. Rating: 10 out of 10
4. The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely
Sorry! It's not my fault that no other good albums came out between 2006 and 2008. And unfortunately, this album is not as good as its predecessor. But it's damn good. The title track is probably the best song on here but honestly, almost the entire album is full of songs that are better than you'll find on 99% of the other albums that get released. My biggest complaints about this one are 1) that there are a couple songs on here that just aren't very good AND 2) what bothers me most is that in Many Shades of Black, they sing the line, "There's so many shades of black..." over and over. Well, that's not grammatically correct. It should be, "There ARE so many shades of black." But they use the contraction of "There is (there's)" which is annoying to a grammar Nazi like myself. Rating: 8 out of 10
5. Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More
Okay, listen... I don't like that I'm on the Mumford & Sons bandwagon. I typically don't like bands that are as popular as these guys. And I can't even really claim to have liked them before they became popular. Although I was into them very early on and like to think I was in the first wave of super fans. So as much as I don't want to like what everyone else likes, I cannot deny the quality of this album. It's unbelievably good. I really wasn't a huge fan of their second album though everyone was crapping themselves over that one as well. I think it was rushed and didn't seem to have the depth that Sigh No More did. The Cave, Winter Winds, Roll Away Your Stone... hell, they're all good. Hate to admit it but this album has no flaws. I do have to point out though that The Raconteurs were dressing in this style years before Mumford made it popular (see above). Rating: 10 out of 10
6. Kings of Leon - Come Around Sundown
Not one of the most popular Kings of Leon albums, I don't think this one had a single that went very high on the charts. But something about this album really connected with me. I like Kings of Leon quite a bit but they're a band whose albums would probably never go higher than a 7 on my rating scale. This one gets an 8 though because of songs like Back Down South, Birthday, Mi Amigo and (my favorite) Pickup Truck. And the rest of the songs aren't bad either. Rating: 8 out of 10
7. The Avett Brothers - I and Love and You
I was introduced to the Avett Brothers by the famous music critic Becky Carman while on my Mumford and Sons kick. She's recommended a lot of bands to me over the years but I haven't enjoyed any of them as much as I enjoy these guys. And they put on a heckuva concert as well. This album is full of really, really good songs like I and Love and You, January Wedding, Ten Thousand Words and It Goes On and On. It's got some stinkers on it... Tin Man is unlistenable. But overall you just don't find albums as good as this one very often. Rating: 8 out of 10
8. Fun. - Some Nights
This is another album that it pains me to love because it's so popular. But there's a reason it's so popular. It's a GREAT album. The lyrics, the musicianship and Nate Ruess' voice are all ridiculously good. I had never heard of them until Deb mentioned really liking them and I checked 'em out immediately. I was hooked from the get-go. So much so that I went and bought their first album. THAT was a mistake. Don't waste your time with Aim and Ignite... Just stick to Some Nights. Of course, unless you've been living under a rock you've probably heard the entire album by now. The best song on there is Stars though and that never got any radio play. So check that one out. Rating: 9 out of 10
9. The Killers - Battle Born
I had heard of The Killers before I downloaded this album. But I had no idea what songs they had released. After I listened to this album a few times, I realized that these were the Mr. Brightside guys. And if I had known that, I probably wouldn't have given them a try. But I did and I am really glad I gave them a chance. This album gets better the more I listen to it. It's not flawless but it's pretty dadgum hard to come up with 10 albums from the past 10 years that rank a 10 out of 10. The title track is crap, and Deadlines and Commitments is worthless. But the rest of the album is quite good. Here With Me got a lot of airplay so you've probably heard it already. But there are some others on here that are just as good as that one. Rating: 8 out of 10
10. Arctic Monkeys - AM
So apparently these guys had a hit a few years ago but I sure as heck had never heard of them. But in hindsight, I'm glad. Because after listening to previous cuts from these guys, I doubt I would have bought this album on a whim (which is what I did). Their early stuff is very punk-ish and not my style. But this album is ridiculous! I've only been listening to it for about 3 weeks but it's already climbed onto this list for me. There's only one song (Mad Soundz) that I don't love but I don't hate it either. Every other song on here is stellar. These guys explore a really wide range of styles on this album. By the end of the album it's hard to believe it's the same band that did the first song. Usually when that happens, at least one of the styles suffers. But not this time. I'm floored at the quality of songwriting and production behind this album and really hope there's more to come from these guys at this quality. Right now I'm giving this album a 9 but in time it could climb higher. Check it out. Rating: 9 out of 10
I would love to hear recommendations from readers about other albums I should check out. I really like checking out new stuff and while I end up not liking most of it, finding a new album that I really love is an awesome feeling. I love to discover really good new music.
Whether your an avid Instagramer or barely use your account, Instagram's Weekend Hashtag Project (#WHP) is sure to help you create some new photos. Every Friday on the Instagram blog a new challenge is posted. Last Friday, users were asked to capture photos of the changing season and use the hashtag #WHPsignsoftheseason. On Monday, Instagram recaps the #WHP and picks their favorite photos.
The project is a perfect exercise to create new photos you wouldn't normally think of. It brings out a new sense of creativity, helps you find new followers and see the rest of the world from your phone.
I'll be heading to College Station this weekend for the Auburn vs. Texas A&M game so be on the look out for this weekends #WHP at Kyle Field!
Earlier this week I came across an article titled, 5 Businesses That Rock Content Marketing. The article talks about 5 small businesses who are using content marketing to engage with their customers. Here's the takeaway:
1. Telling a story about your product allows customers to feel a sense of connection.
Example: Zady gives background on the designer in each clothing description.
Example: Sweetgreen, an organic restaurant chain, goes beyond their brand and recognizes the community and those who help their company by dedicating a portion of their website to them.
3. Fear of Missing Out/Suspense.
Example: Birchbox posts photos of LAST MONTH'S box to show you what you missed out on.
4. Stay active on (and update) social media platforms that work for your company!