Sunday, July 18, 2010


Everyone knows that I'm all about the golden oldies... yes they will forever be at the top of my playlist. That being said, I am a fan of music... GOOD music, whether it's from the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's or I heard it on Pandora yesterday. So I decided I would compile a list of my top five favorite modern records of the last ten years. I couldn't do it, I realized I had at least ten... but then there were two more, so I capped it at twelve. Even after making this list, I realize there are a handful of others not listed... I had to stop somewhere. Here we go:

I have all of John Mayer's records, and I sincerely love 'em all. However this one is a real stand out for me... I remember the day of it's release, I was driving home from Hollywood when I instantly thought "must have now" I took the nearest exit off the 170 and found myself at a random Kmart to pick up a copy. I couldn't get the plastic wrapping off fast enough (the pesky plastic is always so cumbersome... I've got a trick figured out). The second I popped it into the CD player... I .fell. in. love. Previous to Continuum, though the content was still witty and clever, it had much more of a pop polish. This collection of songs are grown up, understated, not overly produced and balanced... they stand on their own two feet. What really impressed me though was his use of the guitar almost as another voice... so melodic, the tone so emotional, distinctive and easy on the ears... comforting even. (Example: Slow Dancing in a Burning Room). This was his moment to show up not just as a singer-songwriter, but as a guitar man... and in my opinion he certainly arrived. Yeah, I know... he was channeling the greats... but who doesn't. This is what I would define as a classic record, one that lasts forever... an artist can only hope that they get to make even just one. And yes, The guy has made some significantly less than chivalrist moves... I still like his music.
FAVORITE TRACKS: I don't trust myself, Vultures, The heart of life, Slow Dancing in a Burning Room

We were driving home from school in the family van, I was a junior in high school... "look at the stars, look how they shine for you..." instantly catching my attention "mom turn it up!"... "please" I exclaimed. What is this? who is this? I need this! Where can I get this? It wasn't long before I was at Borders books with my babysitting money buying one of the few copies available of Parachutes, Coldplays debut album.... still maintaining it's status as my favorite Coldplay record to date. Yes they have come a long way since, growing into what many would consider this decades biggest band. Indeed the other records are amazing, don't get me wrong, but this one is just... pure. The magic of coldplay is found in those three or four chords rooted in deep emotion, paired so poigniently with the simple and yet soulful delivery of Chris Martins voice. Soul not induced by vocal acrobats but by raw honesty and fragile falsetto. He doesn't sing words, he sings feelings. Those feelings I have felt, like a dagger, it was the soundtrack to my hardest of heartbreaks. I had to stop listening. Years later I made peace, I had to reclaim the music and give it a new meaning and recreate new memories... I did... mostly. Not to mention, I would go on to record my own "Yellow" and sing it on arena stages across the country.
FAVORITE TRACKS: Don't Panic, Sparks, Shiver, parachutes

"Somebody told me that you had a boyfriend, that looked like a girlfriend, that I had in February of last year..." Huh? I don't get it. You don't have to get it. Don't over think it...It is what it is. I didn't want to give in to this song, it's never been my favorite. Eventually, I too was snagged by the synthy-rock of the Killers. It was the sound of my second year in L.A., Just a young twenty something driving down the 101 listening to "Jenny was a friend of mine" in my first beloved green Jeep Cherokee with the white roxy sticker on the back window, my first car that I bought from one of my best guy friends in high school just before he left on a church mission, I always wanted it, it was my dream ride. I cried when I traded it in for a new one. I loved that car, I loved driving and listening to the Killers in that car... stuck in traffic? Fine by me, I've got Hot Fuss in my speakers. "it's just the shimmy and the shake... oh oh I can't take... we're on top".
FAVORITE TRACKS: On Top, Believe me Natalie, Jenny was a Friend of Mine

I was first introduced to Feist by my cousin Hunter. We were sitting in his car outside of grandmas house when I heard "Inside and Out"... that was when I realized it was a BeeGee's cover, and a darn good one at that. I am a huge BeeGee's fan, so she won me over instantly with her hip interpretation. "Inside and Out" was a cut from her previous record "Let it Die" also an excellent and noteworthy record that I would highly recommend. However I chose "The Reminder" because I think as a whole it really resonated with me. To date she is probably my favorite modern female artist. Her music is free-spirited, perfectly quirky, both really happy and a little sad, modern yet vintage... sophisticated without being pretentious. Her voice delicate but passionate. In addition to Yellow, I was lucky enough to get to "snap it out" to "1,2,3,4" every night of the Idol Tour.
FAVORITE TRACKS: Brandy Alexander, I feel it All, Limit to your love

In the last few years, I have been charmed by this pair, She and Him... a duo consisting of the always adorable Zooey Deschennel and talented musician M. Ward. Remember when Zooey was on Elf (my most favorite Christmas movie ever) and sang "baby it's cold outside" with Buddy? I remember thinking, is that really her? She can sing! Yes she can... and her voice is one of my favorites. In a sea of "unique female voices" where everyone is starting to sound the same, hers seems genuinely different, again, she is no vocal acrobat, but her tone is sweet. It certainly lends itself to the Analogue-ish vibe they've got going, it is very throw back, which is probably why I like it so much. The production is pretty, sunshiny and a little fuzzy around the edges. As well they have some amazing harmonization going on, particularly on their sparsely produced cover of "you really got a hold on me". The guitar tones are quite tasty as well. Volume 2 is just as good, maybe even better...
FAVORITE TRACKS: Change is Hard, this is not a test

Remember "Brick" from the late 90's? I figured it out on the piano, I loved that song... sad though. This record however is Ben Folds with out the "five", and I am a fan. Ben isn't by many standards, a good singer. But I would have to disagree... at least when it comes to singing his own songs, I couldn't imagine anyone else singing "Zac and Sara" half as awesome as he can. But music isn't just about singing well, it's about the songs essence and how it makes me feel. Not to mention that the guy flat out rules on the piano, he's got chops and definitely gets fancy on the keys, and yet it still feels loose. Oh and he also plays the drums on this record... the guys got talent. Overall it just has a spirit of fun, it's candid and sentimental. The songs sing like a story. Now, just a warning, there is some occasional and random swearing... I could do with out it
FAVORITE TRACKS: still fighting it, annie waits, The luckiest

This might not be the best Ryan Adams record in its entirety, but there are a few songs that I truly adore. I often feel a little tortured about going country... I am pretty much half way there without trying... however, when I listen to Ryan Adams, and I realize that he has staked his claim at the halfway mark himself. Though you won't hear him on the radio, he has a true artistic integrity that I find refreshing. I especially love the little cracks in his voice that he has chosen to leave unaltered, I actually find myself anticipating them while listening... the small imperfections really lend character and emotion. Sonically this record is like a warm blanket... lush acoustic guitars and resonate bass tones really fill it out. Sounds incredible in my car. Like I said, the other records are also a worthwhile listen... (check out his song "Amy" and his cover of "Wonderwall"... wow.
FAVORITE TRACKS: Everybody Knows, Two

What a collection of songs. His voice is distinct, course, abrasive even... almost Bob Dylan-ish. In the beginning I didn't know how I felt about it... but over time I developed an acquired taste, now I love it. Babylon was of course the first song that I heard from David Gray, as it was climbing the radio charts. But "Babylon" was just scratching the surface, there is a body of work that is equally if not more impressive then the radio single. Again, this is a record chalked full of intense emotion... I take it in doses. Some of his new stuff is quite excellent, but for me "White Ladder" hit the nail right on the head.
FAVORITE TRACKS: Sail Away, This Years Love, Please Forgive me

I can't say that I was a huge fan of Kings of Leon previous to "Only By the Night". I like many others jumped on the bandwagon with the release of this hit record. And it is a hit for a reason. I went back and took a listen to their earlier stuff... it was straight up southern rock with out trying to be mainstream. I know there are discontent fans out there who disapprove of the KoL's wise choice to polish up and write a few radio friendly songs. The sound of this record is somewhere in between the south and the city... the raw grit of his rhaspy voice juxtaposed to the modern glossy guitars and roomy drums. This is modern rock production at it's finest if you ask me, it's like glass and yet earthy at the same time. And his voice... my favorite, end of story, especially when he sings "what a night for a dance, you know I'm a dancing machine"... kills me. I would argue that the artistic compromise they made was a good one, while there may be a few disgruntled fans that may have jumped ship, they gained millions more in exchange. Myself included. Obviously I was taken by "use somebody" on the first listen, before it was on the radio... I knew it would make the perfect cover. I couldn't imagine High Hopes & Heartbreak without it.
FAVORITE TRACKS: Revelry, Manhattan, Notion

Pete is another one of those acquired tastes... kinda like Salt and Vinegar chips. The first few are weird and almost too strong, and then pretty soon you can't stop eating them. His voice might detour you at the beginning... but listen on, it gets to you, it got to me. I quite enjoy it. If I were to take the modern approach to making records, it would be in the vein of the Pete Yorn production, which I think Butch Walker might be partially responsible for. However when you take a listen you realize it still has a vintage approach. Dusty like vinyl yet up close, almost as if he is singing right into your ear. And while drum loops can get cheesy real fast, the loops found here are nothing of the sort, they are super hip, again a modern take on a vintage tone. This is one of those records that sounds like California, another reason I love it, it sounds like the Pacific Coast Highway, sunglasses and sand. It grooves the whole way through. It just makes me happy...
FAVORITE TRACKS: Strange Condition, Just Another Girl, Sleep Better

I found Mayer Hawthorne on the front page of itunes last year and found instant gratification. Growing up we listened to a lot of the "Stylistics", songs like "you are everything" and "break up to make up" or Smokey's "tears of a clown". This record was a reinvention of that sound, a shameless throw back to old school R&B and soul and I couldn't have been happier to discover it. I was recommending it to everyone I knew. The lyrics aren't necessarily ground breaking, but it doesn't really matter cause the melodies, harmonies and vibe are spot on.
Love it, love it, love it... that's all.
FAVORITE TRACKS: Strange Arrangement, Shiny and New, Maybe so Maybe no

I'm embarrassed to admit, there was a time that I didn't want to like this record... I don't know why, maybe because I was slightly envious of her success that seemed to blossom overnight. But there is just no denying Coco, it's like a breath of fresh ocean air, it is hip happy feel good family friendly music and we could use a lot more of that in this world. While I appreciate music that carries an emotional weight, sometimes it's nice just to take a break from all the sad songs and just get... bubbly. Speaking of, one of my first "myspace friends" Jason Reeves, whose music I was introduced to first, is Colbie's right hand man and co-writer on nearly the whole record. She is sort of like the female version of him and vice versa, they have a brilliant musical and vocal chemistry and they really invented a sound together, along with their producer Mikal Blue. Side note, Jason in his own right has a collection of songs that is mind-blowing. I love his music so much that we chose him as our first interview for The Girls with Glasses Show... such a gentle and kind soul, and so unbelievably talented. Colbie too is a really nice gal, and I love nice people.
FAVORITE TRACKS: little things, magic, feelings show, realize
JASON REEVES: pretty eyes, you in a song, sky dive, wishing weed

PS- Just remembered these...
Nickel Creek
Lady Antebellum
Norah Jones
Jack Johnson
Ray LaMontagne
Fleet Foxes
The Fray
Frou Frou

ahhh... there are so many....


  1. Brooke White - High Hopes and Heartbreak

  2. Hi Brooke! This is such a great list of albums! The only one I'm not familiar with is the Killers album. Your insight into these albums are completely and totally precise. I bought the Feist album from Starbucks in the summer of 2008 and it's never left my car - it's my favorite on the list.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. This is a great entry. You need to do this more often as it's interesting to hear what one musician appreciates in another.

    Two big thumbs up on the Mayer Hawthorne pick. That is one amazing album. As far as She and Him, I love them, too, but I've grown to like Volume 2 better than Volume 1. As a matter of fact, it's probably my favorite album of the year so far (and In the Sun is by far my favorite song).

  4. Awww, great list of albums! Have several of those myself. And here in Seattle, we're lucky enough to have a AAA radio station that plays a lot of these artists.

    Speaking of Seattle, come back soon, please!!!!!

  5. What a fantastic selection of modern records! I agree that John Mayer's "Continuum" is a classic - it's one of the few albums that I can listen to from start to finish. She & Him is a new favourite of mine, and I'll always adore Colbie Caillat's enchanting style. Some of the artists you gave recognition to (Ryan Adams, Feist), I actually discovered through the O.C. (say what you will about the plotlines, but the soundtrack to that show was superb!) Ryan's cover of "Wonderwall" still gives me the chills. It's so raw and haunting. Love it.

    I'm definitely going to check some of these albums out and revisit ones that I've already fallen in love with. Thank you so much for sharing your stories and insights! :)

  6. Great set Brooke, several in my collection and a few that I'll be checking out. As someone who appreciates lyrics that really convey emotion, you should check out some of Edie Brickell's more recent work. Look for Volcano and her project with Harper Simon, The Heavy Circles. The track Either Way from The Heavy Circles is one of those songs. You don't just hear the descriptions, you feel them.

  7. Thanks for sharing your favorites! It was fun to read your reasoning and memories behind them all.

    And because I ALWAYS seem to have trouble with the plastic wrapping when I'm opening CDs in a hurry - what's your trick? :)

  8. A lot of these are my favorites too! ESPECIALLY Ray LaMontagne--so good!

  9. Nice list. I've really been getting into Ray LaMontagne over the past couple of years. I don't buy much new music I have to admit. I have the Pete Yorn album, and I do like Fleet Foxes and Kings of Leon.

    Are you going to do a classic albums list too? Or maybe by decade? That would give you a lot to write about!

  10. Goooood list! One question though - why did you choose CoCo over Breakthrough for Colbie Caillat? I'm more partial to Breakthrough....

    ( p.s. I love YOUR album so much that I blogged about it on MY blog a few weeks ago! )

  11. Brooke, I am in Awe over your music review. I have not been in Awe since taking an Art appreciation class in College. Especially since I was a Science major. But I do have a big love for music and I am always looking for something different good music. Thank you!

  12. Thank you Brooke for opening my eyes to some new artists and tunes! Very insightful-loved reading your comments, thoughts and feelings. Have you checked out "Jackopierce" yet? Truly awesome! Yes, Please come back to Seattle-Triple Door is a great venue. Love you. "High Hopes and Heartbreak" is my top favorite!

  13. She & Him Volume 1 is awesome but yeah I have to say Volume 2 has become one of my favorites.

  14. yessssss! love them all. now i want to sit in my room and listen to music. soooo many good ones!

  15. Oh yes Brookiedoodle! Bob Dylan. I thought the same. You make this music sound good enough to eat

  16. Cooool! I like Waiting on the World to Change (who doesn't?) and Stop This Train from Continuum! STT because it's got such a nice story. As for Coco, I love Midnight Bottle and Magic! Thanks for the new blog, Brooke! Been waiting for this. -Faithful reader Ria!

  17. Just got a bunch of these cd's and I'm not sure if you hear this enough but you're awesome

  18. fabulous album list!! you MUST check out Trevor Hall, as well. Will be added here for sure :)

  19. Brooke, here in nearby Cedar City, UT on Sept. 13th we are having a fund raiser for the community orchesta here in town. I was wondering if it might be possible for you to swing by and perform a song or two. It sure would do wonders for our fund raiser!

  20. Good choices! I like that you mentioned Fleet Foxes too! They are one of my favorites right now :)

  21. I love Colbie Caillat and Lady Antebellum. I think Colbie's first album is better than her second. I just love how relaxing it is, and Colbie's soothing voice fits right in with the music. I am so glad you posted this. You just persuaded me to get a Lady Antebellum album!

  22. Heyy Brooke. Love this list. All the artists you've mentioned I totally adore - especially Coldplay and David Gray. Their songs are so beautiful. I see you're a Feist lover so I recommend you check out other female vocalists such as Sia and Florence & The Machine if you haven't already. They have the most distinctive, rich voices. :D

    Have a fun summer and I must say I loved you on American Idol.

    Love from a fan from England. X

  23. we literally have the exact same musical taste! I don't have the she and him or the ryan adams... so i am taking your word and buying! have the rest and LOVE.


  24. Brooke, just found your blog :-) These are great c.d.'s! Just wanted to let you know, you are the reason I am trying out for Idol tomorrow!

    All the best your way!