The year is almost over so it is time to look back at what was awesome in music during the year. I have already looked back at the Top Rock Albums of 2020 (click to read). This list will cover all other genres that I listened to over the year including Pop, Country, Christian and whatever other genre you want to classify these albums. Rock is my favorite genre and that is why it gets it’s own list, but that doesn’t take away from any of these choices as I think they are great on their own.
I feel I didn’t get to as many as I would have liked as the year seem to got away from me with all that went on with Covid. I did spend a lot of time on a few series such as finishing The David Coverdale Series, The Gene Simmons ‘The Vault’ Series and starting the epic Kiss Review Series. These consumed a lot of my time. What I am trying to say is I missed a lot.
Note: These albums were my favorites and not necessarily the most played on the radio (which I hate the radio) or even the biggest sellers. There aren’t the trendy indie bands on everyone else’s top albums list (okay, there might be one or two). These are just what I came across during the year and connected with me in some way and some thanks to my kids. So, we might as well get started…
#10 – Richard Marx – Limitless:
I have a soft spot for Richard Marx. I think he is a hell of singer and songwriter. I also have a soft spot for pop ballads and he is the King. This album always put me in a good mood and would relax me when I needed a break from the heavy rock. The songs “Another One Down” and “Limitless” really show off those vocals and are so beautiful. And then when your throw in “Front Row Seats” and “Let Go” well, you get an incredible pop masterpiece.
I am not big on Christmas albums. Not my favorite thing in the world. I don’t mind compilation albums with numerous different people singing various Christmas songs, but one album, by one person doing only Christmas songs. Not my thing. So when Matt Nathanson announced a Christmas album, I wasn’t thrilled, but at the same time, it was Matt Nathanson who is one of my favorite artists. So, I gave it try and now I’m glad I did.
The digital only album is nothing but covers, but it is okay as how do you write a new Christmas song when there are so many out there. He starts off with the sweet, tender “Christmas Time Is Hear” which features the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. It is a hauntingly beautiful interpretation, short and sweet and a great opener. Matt kicks things up a notch with the English/Spanish song “Donde Esta Santa Claus” which is a fun, energetic romp full of Latin flavors. It is a tasty treat and one of my favorite tracks on the album.
Matt covers “Blue Christmas” and he plays it softer than Elvis and thankfully he doesn’t try to copy that approach as it would sound too Karaoke. Matt’s version has a country flair to it and is quite pleasant as Matt’s voice is as slick as melted butter. To keep the color theme going he goes in to “White Christmas” which is amazing short at only 51 seconds so not sure why even bother including it. It is an all acoustic short instrumental that is actually quite beautiful.
For My Sunday Song #220 and the last one in the Matt Nathanson 10 song set is “Come on Get Higher” off his 2007 album ‘Some Mad Hope’. This is the one song that people most definitely know as it was his biggest hit. It didn’t break the Top 40, but it did sell over 2 million copies of the song alone which is why it is his biggest hit.
The song is about a lost love and missing them terribly. He longs for her touch and even misses the bad parts with her violent words and sweet words she would yell at him. It sounds like a very dysfunctional relationship, but when it was good, it sounds sensual, sexy and amazing and when it was bad, it was truly bad. Despite all that he wants to show her that it can work out and they would be amazing. Matt has way of writing that is so sexual without being obscene or even vulgar. It is more sensual and sexy. Lyrics like…
So come on, get higher, loosen my lips Faith and desire and the swing of your hips Just pull me down hard And drown me in love
It is those little touches in his lyrics that make his song magical and the songs so memorable. It is another shining example of why I think he is such an underrated songwriter.
For My Sunday Song #219, we are discussing a song called “Modern Love” by Matt Nathanson. The song is the title track on his album ‘Modern Love’ which was released on June 21, 2011. This song was the fourth single off the album and though it didn’t chart it is still a shining light on this album.
What I love about this song is it cynicism. The song seems to be inspired by the “hook-up” culture of the younger generation. This poor girl is tired of “all of these salesmen” who are serving up lie after lie. She is tired of no one wanting to be committed to anything. She is done with it, no more sleeping around, no more bullshit and she is just plain done. I love the line…“Oh this modern love is a taco truck”…Matt stated in an interview that the line is about the fact people stand there and eat the food without actually sitting down and enjoying the meal which is how people are treating relationships. With Tinder and other disappointing apps, it is a fast food world of relationships. I believe he is spot on.
Musically, the song is an upbeat, pop song that is full of life and joy even though the lyrics aren’t truly happy thoughts. That is one of the joys of Matt’s music is that the lyrics and music often contradict themselves. The music is full of bouncy keyboard/horn sounds, a nice danceable groove and some simple guitar playing that all blends together in to a happy musical experience.
For My Sunday Song #218, we are going to discuss the song “Used to Be” by Matt Nathanson off his album ‘Sings His Sad Heart’ that was released on October 5, 2018 just a couple short years ago. The album is one of my favorites as it is one of the saddest albums you will ever hear, but the music doesn’t necessarily match that sadness. They are a beautiful contradiction.
“Used to Be”, however, is not that contradiction. The music and lyrics are both sad although that sadness is more nostalgia. The singer is looking back about an old flame and he is missing her so much. He is letting her know that if she is starting to forget those memories, he can help her remember. Basically, the person he is jonesing for has completely moved on, but he can’t move forward. He is stuck in the past. There is a line in the song that is so brilliant and one of the coolest lines I’ve ever read…
And if you’re having trouble, baby, holding on to memories I’ve got a king-sized bed and a Ph.D. in the way it used to be
“King-sized be and a PH.D. in the way it used to be”, I don’t know…it just sounds so perfect. This part of the chorus just sinks in and grabs you and is so memorable, you can’t help but sing along and it starts to feel like an old friend you’ve known forever. Matt has a way of writing that sounds so familiar and comfortable. He writes for the everyday person and although his stuff is so personal to him, it is the same thing everyone else is feeling or have felt at some time in the life.
For My Sunday Song #217, we will talk about the song “Last Days of Summer in San Francisco” by Matt Nathanson. The song is off his 2013 album “Last of the Great Pretenders” which went to #16 on the Billboard charts. The song was never released as a single, but most of Matt’s songs aren’t and it is those deep cuts that draw me to his music. Okay that and the incredible song writing.
“Last Days of Summer in San Francisco” is like a lot of songs on this album that seem to be a love letter to San Francisco with shout-outs to locations and landmarks. This particular song seems to be about a powerful Summer love that helped define the person who he became. The person showed them who they were and gave them the strength to do things they didn’t think they could even if some of them were stupid stuff. It sounds like a Summer romance that blew hot and then burned out. But it is that first verse that sums up the song to me perfectly…
We spent July in a Berkeley basement, Half read books, and bold declarations. There was so much I didn’t believe in And then, there was you. You made me brave, You made me stupid Gave me this skin, that I could move in.
It is that kind of writing that makes Matt so special. His word phrasing, his pacing, it is all just brilliance to me. His music connects to the most human of experiences and emotions. He sings of life, love and heartache in ways most people dream they could do.
For My Sunday Song #216, we are going to explore the song “Room at the End of the World” by Matt Nathanson. The song is off his stellar 2011 album, ‘Modern Love’ and it was the 2nd single off the album. Although I don’t think the song charted, the album did debut at #17 on the Billboard charts. The fact that it didn’t chart is no surprise as Matt has never been a darling of public radio. His songs are way too good for radio as they are well crafted masterpieces and lyrical poems about life and he is pure talent unlike the bozos on radio. No, I am not biased…okay…yes I am. You got me!
I think the song is talking about being with the one you love and nothing to take away that fact. Even if the world was ending, you two would get a room and make the best of what was to come. I love how the song talks about how he was lost and had given up on love until he found “The One”. The One that makes him whole, The One that he will be with until the end of time, The One true love. There is line that says “one heart is never enough alone” and I don’t think it is saying you have to be someone to be whole, I think it is saying that he never felt complete until he found her (or him). His lyrical phrasing is always so eloquent and so beautiful. He doesn’t sing a love song in the same cliched way other songs do.
Musically, the song is an upbeat, feel-good song that dances along with its ups and downs the same way we go through life. The drum beats towards the end are your heart beating as the love builds and the song keeps promising to deliver more and does just that as the final choruses are sung with all his heart and the music is full of life and love.
For My Sunday Song #215, we are going to discuss “Suspended” by Matt Nathanson off his 2003 album ‘Beneath the Fireworks’. The album was one of the first I heard by Matt and helped me get on board to become a full-fledged fan. “Suspended” was a single off the album but failed to chart. His first charted single didn’t come until his next album, ‘Some Mad Hope’ in 2007.
The song seems to be about being with someone that that you think is pretending you are the one. You are scared. You are feeling things that you haven’t felt before. You are alive, no longer numb. You feel she might actually be the one, but you are scared that she is. You freak out a little, but you finally suspend disbelief and except her for what this is and it could be beautiful. For me, it is a song about hope in finding your true love. I find it it to be a beautiful and the way he captures the emotions in the lyrics is amazing.
Musically, it is a pop song, plain and simple. Nice beats, good grove, great vocal delivery. There is nothing special about it, no outstanding moment. It perfectly captures the tone of the lyrics and it is catchy, fun and pleasant. Sometimes, the beauty is in the simplicity.
For My Sunday Song #214, we are going to discuss the song “Adrenaline” off Matt Nathanson’s album ‘Show Me Your Fangs’ from 2015. The album contained 4 singles and next to “Headphones” this might be my favorite single off the album. It charted as high as #26 on the US Adult Alternative Charts and did as well as “Headphones”.
I picture “Adrenaline” as a song about longing and desire. After a bad breakup and you run in to that person again and you want to be with them so badly you can taste it. All you remember is how great it was and wanting to capture that desire, that passion that emotion one more time and if you could grab hold, you wouldn’t let go this time. Lyrically, the song captures that feeling beautifully as well as full of some imagery of Los Angeles and of that desire that make the song a little on the sexy side.
Musically the songs starts off with an almost angelic vocals full of echo and a haunting delivery. There is a great drum beat throughout that gets you moving and bobbing the head. The highlight for me is how Matt delivers the song vocally. They way he dances with the lyrics and loses himself in the lyrics makes you feel everything that the song is trying to make you feel. A talent on both as a songwriter and a singer and when those too mesh together in the right way, you are treated with something magical and this song is exactly that.
My Sunday Song #213 is the song “Car Crash” by Matt Nathanson. The song is off his 2007 album ‘Some Mad Hope’ and it was a single and got a relatively fair amount of airplay. Not as much as another song on that album which will be the final post of this 10 song series.
The song is rather dark in subject matter. It seems to be about someone that has kept things inside for so long that they have become numb to everything around them. They want to so desperately to feel something. They want that “car crash” moment to wake them from the darkness and let them feel life again. They need that dramatic cataclysmic catastrophe to be alive as they are dying on the inside. It is rather heartbreaking that the person feels so low and depression is so rampant in today’s society which even today is easy to see how the darkness can consume.
Musically, the song fits the lyrics as the chorus explodes and the drum beats and cymbal hits sound like a crashing sound. While on the verses, the electric guitars fill the image with a rich tone and texture that accompany the vocals to give it a sound that is uplifting despite the darkness. The sounds feel like everything is about explode and all will be right with the world. It is a perfect blend of the dark lyrics with the light instrumentation.