Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Animal Names are the Best of 2009

There's torture here. I'm fed up. I can't take the head pressure anymore, IT'S LIST TIME. God, what was I supposed to do...not do one? Jesus of Jesus! That couldn't happen. Colors, I'm seeing colors. Help me. A rat is running on the roof making the sound of nails. Somewhere in the distance, a crow cries. Torture! Broken fingernails!

Without order or any sense of triumph at doing this right because there are really just too many great albums to create some sort of "top ten" (exactly what I did) or "top five" or "top 88" (what about Bear in Heaven? Grizzly Bear?? King Kahn & BBQ Show??? Passion Pit???? Flaming Lips?????) Hell. This is just my personal favorites of 2009 with remedial, disgustingly short descriptions.

The Antlers, Hospice
The light bulbs explode when this album plays.
Antlers - Sylvia

Neko Case, Middle Cyclone
The title track is one of the best songs I've ever heard.
Neko case - Middle Cyclone

Cotton Jones, Paranoid Cocoon
Rock from the bottom of a soapy, fifties dishwasher; "Blood Red Sentimental Blues" is a perfect song.

Cotton Jones - Blood Red Sentimental Blues

Tune-Yards, Bird Brains
What is this? It's like pouring sugar on your frontal lobe.

Tune Yards - Sunlight

(read the rest by clicking link below


Monday, December 28, 2009


Broken and alone is the best way to experience The Antlers perfect album Hospice. This Take Away Show exemplifies that. Get ready to drink, you're going to need it. Crafting any best of 2009 list has to include Hospice and Peter Silberman's limitless, Jeff Buckley-esque voice.

Also, if you're a fan, you MUST have their live performance of Sylvia live in NYC (click here).

Monday, December 21, 2009

Inside Abraham Lincoln's Joke Book...

Is a CD that you should hear. The actual sounds of the color orange. Colourmusic's last few CDs are the auditory representation of color. If you're pausing and thinking that it all sounds like avant-garde, bah-humbug nonsense--don't judge before you hear. They know what they're doing. NPR's review: "What orange sounds like is anybody's guess, but the music on F, Monday, Orange, February, Venus, Lunatic, 1 or 13 suggests that it is one incredibly vivid, exuberant color."

F, Monday, Orange, February, Venus, Lunatic, 1 or 13 (yes! this is the name of Colourmusic's album!) in the context is thought-provoking, and out of context is the great concept of a great rock band. "Put in a Little Gas" is melodic and wild with its addictive, smoking guitar and repeatable chorus (Polyphonic Spree-ish). "Rock and Roll Polar Bear" shows off what they can do with acoustic instruments and their White Albumy sense of humor (Danielson-ish).

"F, Monday, Orange..." is the band's first full length attempt at the relationship of sound and color (orange). Catch them on tour, selling their CDs inside vintage books, like "The Abraham Lincoln Joke Book." The truth is, I had no idea of their post-modern attempt to marry sound to color when I saw the band. It didn't matter: their songs speak for themselves as inspired, fun, brit-psych rock. See MP3s below!

Colourmusic - Put in a Little Gas

Colourmusic - Rock and Roll Polar Bear

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Great Big Bushy Beard

J Tillman - Year In The Kingdom - Luxury Wafers Sessions from Luxury Wafers on Vimeo.

Luxury Wafers is lucky enough to host J. Tillman for some exclusive tracks from his new album, Year in the Kingdom. In fact, Luxury Wafers was so enthused at J. Tillman's liveness, that they're going to host his videos all week. If you don't know J. Tillman: his albums are studious and quiet, but live is what your blood needs--it highlights all of the subtleties of his voice. Also some kick ass crashing symbols from his backing band. Head over to the Wafer for the MP3s.

Year in the Kingdom is out now on Western Vinyl.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rock Slide (The RAA)

One of my favorite songs is No Expectations by the Rolling Stones. Like You Can't Always Get What You Want, No Expectations is about bereavement and acceptance. A major life loss that leaves you hollow inside:

"Take me to the station / and put me on a train / I've got no expectations / to pass through hear again"

This is the sentiment of the debut album from The RAA, Hometowns. On Saturday in Dallas, they played a great set, flush with funeral dirge organs, bone cracking drums, and a bunch of stories about how lost lead singer Nils Edenloff is. If you're interested, I wrote a review of the RAA Show on John Iskander's Parade of Flesh (the prolific booker of every good show in Dallas) site. Check it out: here. Otherwise, check out The RAA's new video (and MP3 below) for "Drain the Blood," which is harsh and catchy--like an angry Feist song or something.

The RAA - Drain the Blood

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Local Natives Burn Down Barns

Ed Droste was in a dream I had the other day, after a night dedicated to Call of Duty 2: Modern Warfare. In the dream the sky had that rosy, Cormac McCarthy apocalypse glow, and Droste tossed me a shotgun which I caught & loaded with one hand (CHK-CHK sound). Pretty cool right? Maybe Droste had the same dream........

Weird segue, but I was thinking about Grizzly Bear and Local Natives before I went to sleep because both are so damn good in this 2009 musical-Gorilla Manor is their great debut. Thanks to Jeff Weiss's recent reporting, I can happily sleep apocalypse-less knowing Frenchkiss Records has picked up the Los Angeles based band. Pass me a happy shotgun (That's the same label as The Antlers, Frenchkiss, not Happy Shotgun). Take good care of them, Frenchkiss.

Jeff Weiss's article on Local Natives here (also cop some MP3s); Aquarium Drunkard's LA session here (Dear God good MP3s here too): This year of music is seriously rendering me sleepless. Enjoy the above video of Local Natives playing at Daytrotter's Barnstormer sessions.

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Beautiful Star: Songs of Odetta" meets Maine

About forty years ago (wow), Martin Luther King Jr. said Odetta Holmes was "the Queen of American Folk music." So, in this glorious musical year of 2009: UK zine Wears the Trousers has very recently released a tribute to Odetta's beautiful folk sound with the album, "Beautiful Star: Songs of Odetta" (out now on iTunes). I haven't heard the whole collection yet, but the myspace has some stop-you-in-your tracks folk goodness (here).

Artists include Linda Draper, Anais Mitchell, Haunted Stereo, Pepi Ginsberg, and a moving final track by Maine originals Arborea. This youtube video showcases Arborea's version of "This Little Light of Mine," which adds depth and darkness to the early folk sound. What a way to close a tribute.

PS, please listen to Odetta's version of the Rolling Stones "No Expectations" (via Coverlaydown) in the attached Mp3. It's delicate and clarinety and so very overflowing with the essence of folk.

Odetta - No Expectations (cover)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fanfarlo, The Loft: Oh Me Oh My Oh

The lead singer of Fanfarlo sort of looks like Robin Hood. I imagined him off stage riding horses and dropping canvas bags of golden nuggets to hungry hipsters. As a stage presence and musically, Fanfarlo is as red-dot accurate as it gets. The lead singer's name is Simon Balthazar, like something Keanu Reeves fights in Constantine, and he has the offshore vibrato of Zach Condon and a backing band like Arcade Fire. Live, they have richness and a professionalism. Try to see these guys on the road if you can: they have pretty lights behind them, and their music is old-fashioned good. The above posted track really shined, "Ghosts,":

And tell me all the secrets
Of a world you once lived in
That your heart could not swallow
The sky is so shallow

One great thing: when was the last time you saw a lead singer blare clarinet into the microphone?

ps - thanks to whoever posted this video on youtube so fast.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

One of the Best Songs of the Decade is Death Letter

Earlier I was reading a great list of the decade's best music on Fresh Cherries from Yakima, and it reminded of something: I love the White Stripes album De Stijl. Now is a good time to remember it. Somewhere in between Julian Casablancas Phazes for the Young ripping open a portal to remember what garage rock sounded like in the beautiful nostalgia of a couple of years ago, and Dan Auerbach's thor hammer sound is the reminder, "Hey, Jack White knocked over some heads in 2000."

Yes, the albums he made after De Stijl were good, and damn near Zeppelin like. But the shittiest thing about Zeppelin is how they turned to gods of turds after Physical Graffiti. To hear their most raw, bitter as an onion blues sound, you have to listen to their 2 Disc BBC Recordings. It's live, messy, and COVERED in gasoline power. Plant's voice is capable of anything, and Page could blow a window out with his Highlander guitar. I don't think that The White Stripes turned to turds after De Stijl, but I do think that their most unadulterated, exemplary music comes from it.

"De Stijl" is named after a Bau-Hausian art movement, but it's dedicated to blues-gospel artist Son House. He is the author of the original song, "Death Letter," which has been often covered by toothy rock bands like Gov't Mule and John Mellencamp's face, but Jack White's version couldn't better encapsulate the White Stripes contribution to music: hardcore blues rock, faded but spit shined to sound like Zeppelin Live at the BBC (and Son House's amazing song, of course.)

Listen below, and thanks to Fresh Cherries from Yakima for reminding me of how much I love this record.

White Stripes - Death Letter

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