I fired up my stereo today and realized I hadn't taken a CD out of its five-disc changer in nearly a month. Now that's good music...or at least, I've found some favorites. I thought I'd share them with you, dear readers, to spread the love and to ask you which albums spend longer than usual in your rotation.
Maroon 5, Hands All Over (2010)
Since discovering them a few weeks ago, I've had all of Maroon 5's albums in my stereo - but it's their newest release that's still playing, and not necessarily for the reasons you might think. Yes, the hit singles "Misery," "Give A Little More," and "Never Gonna Leave This Bed" are great songs, worthy of their extensive radio airplay; "Misery" is the new ringtone on my cell phone. Yet once I got through the whole album, I actually found greater joy in a few of the tracks toward the end. My two favorites have to be "Just A Feeling," with its quiet sincerity, and "Runaway," which finds me singing along every time it plays.
In all honesty, though, there's not a bad track on this diverse album. "Don't Know Nothing" is another catchy track and I find "How" to be quite touching. The deluxe edition only adds to that greatness, with the peppy "Last Chance," the unique "No Curtain Call" (which I put at the top of my workout playlist), and Adam Levine's excellent cover of Alicia Keys' hit "If I Ain't Got You." I love Alicia Keys, but Adam's version nearly surpasses hers in my opinion. With every song hooking me in some way, there's every reason to keep playing this one over and over again.
Buy it on Amazon.
Scott Grimes, Drive (2010)
You know Scott Grimes as an actor: he's the voice of Steve Smith on American Dad!, was Dr. Archie Morris on ER, and recently was slain by the title character in this past season of Dexter. Yet did you know he's also a very talented musician? Drive is his third album, and it's safe to say he has a second career if he ever quits acting.
The lead track, "Hide," has quickly become one of those catchy songs that I can't get out of my head. If I hear just the beginning of it, I have to stop and listen to the whole thing. If it comes on while I'm in the car, I've been caught singing along (much to the embarrassment of everyone else stuck with me). I haven't heard a song that infectious since Deep Blue Something came out with "Breakfast at Tiffany's."
As peppy as "Hide" is, though, "What Love Is" is so poignant that the first time I heard it, I got a little teary-eyed. Whether it's a happy song or a contemplative one, there's a real sincerity to all of Scott Grimes' music that just makes every track tug at me in one way or another. And it's all done with a minimum of production - just simple, earnest music that I can put on no matter what I'm feeling. I like Scott Grimes as an actor, but I think he's an even more talented musician.
And though it's not on this album, I'll always have a soft spot for Grimes, since he's responsible for the song I think of as my theme song: "Sunset Blvd."
Buy it on Amazon.
Brian Culbertson, Bringing Back The Funk (2008)
Brian Culbertson has been my favorite musician for years. It's really hard for me to pick a favorite album of his, which makes it ironic that the one album different from all the rest is the one that I play more than any other. Bringing Back The Funk contains one of my favorite songs ever - "The House of Music." The first time I ever heard it was live right after the album came out, and I'm not exaggerating when I say it actually brought tears to my eyes. Hearing that song is one of only two times I've ever had an emotional experience while listening to a song (the other is also a Culbertson tune).
Beyond that, though, this is just a fun, funky record. The first three tracks - "Funkin' Like My Father," "Always Remember" and "Hollywood Swinging" - are the kind of songs that I can put on, turn the radio up, and they instantly put me in a partying mood. The rest of the album likewise has that kind of exuberant flavor. This is the CD I listen to when I'm in need of a pick me up, or taking a long drive somewhere, because I can't not smile listening to it. There's a reason I saw Brian live more than once during this tour - this album is that good.
Buy it on Amazon.
Dave Koz, Greatest Hits (2008)
I heard my first Dave Koz song on the radio by accident when I was a teenager, and I've been a huge fan of his ever since. Greatest Hits really is a compilation of his best work, plus a few new cuts. That first song was "Together Again," which is included here, as are some of my other favorites like "Can't Let You Go (The Sha La Song)" and "Castle of Dreams." If you haven't heard Dave's music, this is the album you'll want to pick up, as it showcases some of his best and best-known tunes.
I've seen Dave in concert at least a dozen times by now, and it's great to hear this CD play through and recognize all the old songs, each of them having a memory associated with them. The new tracks are nothing to sneeze at either. Dave Koz's music, to me, is the equivalent of comfort food - it's always there, and I know when I pick up a new album, it's going to be good. His love for life and for his audience really comes through in everything that he does, and as such, it's impossible not to feel that when I listen to him. He's one of the rare artists I'll see at every opportunity, even if it's not a new tour, just because I enjoy his warmth and spirit. Hopefully, you'll be touched by that, too.
Buy it on Amazon.
Bobby Caldwell, Heart of Mine (1990)
Everyone remembers their first concert, and mine was Bobby Caldwell. I was five. I've been a fan of his music ever since; a love of his sound has been passed down from my parents to me. I was even lucky enough to interview him once. (You can read my interview with Bobby here.) Though we own all of his albums, this is the one I keep coming back to, again and again. The title track is another of my all-time favorite songs, that I always end up singing every time I hear it. Another longtime favorite is "Next Time (I Fall)." But all the songs instantly transport me into a nice, calm place, motivated by my childhood memories of this CD, which I've only grown to cherish more as I get older.
Bobby Caldwell is my favorite vocalist, male or female, ever. I've never heard anyone that enraptures me the way he does. (Maroon 5's Adam Levine would be second place, but even he can't topple my longstanding love of Caldwell.) Even as he gets older, he's lost very little from that velvet voice. All of his songs hold up remarkably well. Coming from a different era and genre of music, he writes lyrics that are simple and more importantly, clean. I can listen to his music with my family, and I have. Call me sappy, but I cherish the few things that I share with my parents, and a longtime love of Bobby Caldwell is one of them. He'll always be tops in my book, and this album is the best of him.
Buy it on Amazon. (Ignore the incorrect artwork; the samples link to the correct songs.)
Those are the five albums that are stuck in my CD player - five discs that I can play repeatedly and not notice or care that it's the dozenth time I've heard them. They're all special to me for various reasons, because I have an emotional tie to them or because they're just good music. I love each one of them. What are some of the albums that you love? Why do you keep playing them? Sound off below.