Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010: The 20 Best Albums I Heard

As I alluded to yesterday, I hesitate to create a list that is lacking what I hope to be one of my favorite albums, Ryan Adams' III/IV.  But of the 70+ albums I bought, these are the best albums I heard that were released in 2010.

Honorable Mentions:
Mountain Man - Made the Harbor
MGMT - Congratulations
The Walkmen - Lisbon
Warpaint - The Fool
The Acorn - No Ghost

The Top 20:

20.  Suckers - Wild Smile

This one took me a while, but if you can take the weirdness and the occasional falsetto, it's well worth your time.


19.  Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Everyone else's #1, I thought there were a number of great songs, some good ones, and one that ended with 3-4 minutes of Chris Rock standup. 


18.  Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz

I'm still torn on whether I love or just want to be friends with this album.  I kind of liked sweet, quiet Sufjan more than neon-electro Sufjan.


17.  The Love Language - Libraries

My favorite NC band of the moment, I have a feeling these guys will be a lot bigger when album #3 is released.


16.  The Black Keys - Brothers

One of the most consistently great bands delivers another consistently great LP.


15.  Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

I'm still partial to Funeral, but years from now I wonder how this LP will compare.


14.  Belle & Sebastian - Write About Love

Six years of waiting for this LP was pretty much worth it - not as eclectic as The Life Pursuit, but still a great record.


13.  Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record

Broken Social Scene probably delivers fewer hooks than any band, but the more I listen to this LP, the more I like it...even with a song titled "Texico Bitches."


12.  Jenny & Johnny - I'm Having Fun Now

After Johnny's work on Jenny's Acid Tongue, I had a feeling this record would be good.  These two just sound great together.


11.  Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid

Obviously one perfect single, and the album was as good a "concept album" as I've heard in a while.


The top 10 after the jump...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

2010: The 30 Best Songs I Heard

I hate doing these lists before the end of the year because I haven't fully absorbed everything I've listened to nor heard everything I want to hear - most notably, the new Ryan Adams LP is sitting in the post office waiting for my return to LA.  But 'tis the season of lists, and I felt like one putting one together despite my convictions.  These are the thirty best songs I heard that were released in 2010, most of which I blogged about already - just click the link to read the original post.

30.  CocoRosie - Lemonade


29.  Broken Social Scene - Texico Bitches

Probably the worst song title on this list, I'll be damned if the chorus of "I wanna be fair" doesn't have me singing along every time.


28.  Best Coast - Boyfriend


27.  Suckers - King of Snakes


26.  Tame Impala - Desire Be Desire Go


25.  of Montreal - Coquet Coquette

I found False Priest to be a bit of a disappointment, but this first single from the LP was perfect.


24.  Hot Chip - Hand Me Down Your Love

Hot Chip is incapable of releasing an album without a few great singles - this was my favorite from One Life Stand.


23.  Chief - Your Direction



22.  Joanna Newsom - Easy

Have One on Me had me from this opening track, showcasing Newsom's voice evolving, with a little less squeak and a lot more Joni Mitchell.


21. The Acorn - Restoration

Another excellent track from a vastly underrated band, fans of Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear should dig this.


The top 20 after the jump...

Monday, December 20, 2010

2010: The Best Concerts I Attended

By my count I went to 32 concerts in 2010, not including variety shows like Conan's tour.  But these were the best, either musically, aesthetically, or comically.  Let's start with some honorable mentions:

Morning Benders at the Music Box - they look like they're 15, but they play like they've been doing it for decades.  Highlight: a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams"

Lissie at the Troubadour - one of my favorite voices was a joy to see live; Highlight: anything from her Why You Runnin' EP

Pavement, Sonic Youth and No Age at the Hollywood Bowl - the big Pavement reunion was the raison d'etre, and our seats were great...but I've seen all these bands in smaller venues.  Still, it was fun for a trip down memory lane. Highlight: Pavement's "Summer Babe"

The Top Ten:

10. Local Natives at the Music Box - hipster central - moustaches, skinny jeans, trendy haircuts - and that was just on stage.  Still, these guys can play. Highlight: "Sun Hands"

9. Sufjan Stevens at the Wiltern - Still not sure how I feel about the new album, and this was by far the goofiest show I've been to, but it was a lot of fun.  Highlight: his story about the artist that inspired the artwork and much of his new LP

8. Faith No More at the Palladium - I'd been waiting almost 20 years for this, and it was pretty much worth it. Mike Patton is an amazing frontman. Highlight: opening the show with a faithful cover of Peaches & Herb's "Reunited"

7. Foreign Born at the Echo - I must not have purchased their Person to Person LP in time to make my favorite records of 2009 list, but it would be on there now. Highlight: "Vacationing People"

6. Greg Dulli at the Troubadour - this was my second time seeing Dulli at the Troub in the last couple years (the first was with Mark Lanegan), but this was surprisingly the better show.  Not only did Lanegan come out for a song, but Afghan Whigs' bassist John Curley played on a few of their band's songs.  Highlight: any of the Whigs' songs

5. Erykah Badu at the El Rey - I already blogged about this show, and it ended up as one of my favorites of 2010. Highlight: Erykah walking around the crowd before the show taking pics with her extremely adoring fans

4. Dirty Projectors at the Walt Disney Concert Hall - this was my fourth DP show in about a year and a half, and it was the biggest. Not only did the LA Phil open the show, but the band played their entire Getty Address LP with an orchestra (not the LA Phil). Highlight: I wasn't very familiar with this album at the time, so the entire show was a surprise

3. Joanna Newsom at the Orpheum - This was probably my most anticipated show of the year, and it was phenomenal. Perfect venue and I could have listened to her for hours. As a bonus, Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes opened.  Highlight: "Have One on Me"

2. Belle & Sebastian at the Palladium - this is high on the list not only because Belle & Sebastian were phenomenal as always, but Jenny & Johnny opened the show. Highlight: when the band brought up about 8 attendees to dance on stage

1. Jon Brion at Largo - I can't figure out whether I saw him 3 or 4 times, but Jon Brion always delivers. By far the most interesting show you'll ever see, and the quality varies from really good to mind-blowing - you can't leave disappointed. Highlight: Greg Behrendt opened one show with about 10 minutes of standup, a big portion of which was about meeting Van Halen. Brion then came out and started playing "Jump" or "Panama" (can't remember which) on the keyboards

Friday, December 17, 2010

Song of the Day: Whiskeytown - Lo-Fi Tennessee Mountain Angel

I'll end NC week with one of my favorites - Whiskeytown.  While I have plenty more NC bands for a future installment, I can never feature enough Ryan Adams songs on my blog.

Picking a Whiskeytown song is next to impossible - do I go with something more on the Country side of the spectrum, or more Rock?  Or do I go straight to the Pop stuff?  I'm tempted to go Rock, as the more Rock-oriented songs are what got me into Whiskeytown in the first place.  However, this song, from their debut LP Faithless Street, epitomizes what the band is about - namely, the vocal interplay between Ryan and Caitlin Cary.  Her harmonizing completely makes this song, and I would give anything to hear them on stage together.  Curses to me for missing it the first time around.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Song of the Day: Hobex - Rollin'

Hobex was an offshoot of Dillon Fence, a band my friends and I revered in our high school and early college days. We were pretty disappointed during our junior year to find they had broken up, and perhaps even more so to find that the lead singer, Greg Humphreys, had decide to form a funk/R&B trio.

Things changed, however, when we heard the Payback EP, their first release.  Gone was the Connells-like pop of Dillon Fence, replaced by funk bass and Greg breaking out his soul voice.  After starting as a trio, they later gained a horn section and background singers, then dropped back to a trio.  Greg's releasing solo albums now, though Hobex always seems to be playing around NC.

In fact, the most recent time I saw them, they were playing my wedding.  I was responsible for only one thing during our wedding planning, and it was the music.  I emailed the band, not knowing if they would play a wedding, but I was extremely psyched when we got the contract signed.  The band was fantastic and were really nice guys, and we got a lot of compliments about the music from a wide spectrum of guests.  Hobex, and Dillon Fence for that matter, were a band that should have been bigger.  But hopefully we'll always have them in NC.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Song of the Day: Archers of Loaf - Wrong

Archers of Loaf are one of my favorite '90s bands, and hearing their songs instantly takes me back to my college days.  They were a Chapel Hill band, and I was at UNC around the time they were at their peak.  Not only that, I interned for their management company for about a year - licking envelopes, keeping up the mailing list, that kind of stuff.  I wish I had better stories from that experience, but I never got to meet the band or have crazy adventures.  But the guys I worked for were cool, I got a bunch of free CDs (unfortunately I wasn't into vinyl at the time - I bet I missed out on some good schwag) and I got to see the band a few times. 

It's really difficult to pick a favorite song, so I'll go with the first Archers song I heard - "Wrong."  This song has everything that makes the band great - Sonic Youth-like guitars and feedback, great melody and Eric Bachmann's singular voice. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Song of the Day: The Veldt - High

The Veldt were a great '90s rock band out of Chapel Hill, but their sound is a little more Britpop than other American "indie" acts of that time.  Making them even more outside the mainstream - the group members were mostly black (and as I noted in my Fishbone post, it sadly seems that black rock n' rollers are becoming few and far between). 

Their self-released Universe Boat LP was played to no end on my dorm-room stereo, and I got the chance to see them tour for this record at the Cat's Cradle.  On this track, the singer breaks out some falsetto and some great "woohoos."  I'd highly recommend buying this album, but it's probably long out of print - another band that should have made it big.  Luckily, you can listen to the entire album on Grooveshark - click here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Song of the Day: The Rosebuds - Hold Hands and Fight

Kicking off another week of NC bands is one of my favorite all-time Raleigh bands, The Rosebuds.  My first exposure to the band was a long out-of-print split single with a band called Utah!.  It features two songs which would eventually turn up, with different mixes, on their debut LP.

But it's their second LP, Birds Make Good Neighbors, which turned me into a hardcore fan - the album even made by top 21 of the 2000s list.  It kicks off with what I consider the best song in their catalog, "Hold Hands and Fight."  Ivan Howard has a great voice, the backing vocals are tremendous, and I really like how the song builds in intensity.  As I've mentioned many times before to anyone who will listen, I had the opportunity to guest DJ at Indie 103.1 a few years ago, and I was extremely excited to play this song.  I thought for sure anyone who heard this song would go out and buy the album - it's just impossible for me to describe how good it is.  I don't know if that happened, but hopefully anyone reading this will take a chance on one of the best bands playing right now.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Song of the Day: The Damned - New Rose

Admission - I've been focusing on my upcoming NC trip and trying to compile my EOY lists (oh, and my job), but I really wanted to talk about one of my favorite bands.  Alas, it will have to come at a later date.

Instead, we'll head into the weekend on The Damned's "New Rose," a song I first heard on Guns N' Roses covers album, The Spaghetti Incident?

Next week: More NC bands!

This summer I had a week-long North Carolina band extravaganza, and next week I'll be showcasing even more NC bands.  Stay tuned...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Song of the Day: Simon & Garfunkel - At the Zoo

I bought Bookends after seeing it prominently featured in Almost Famous, one of my favorite movies of all time (it's seen and heard when the mom played by Frances McDormand points to the album cover and notes they look stoned, the song "America" playing in the background)

I really only knew the most popular Simon & Garfunkel songs, so it was exciting to hear songs as good as "Save the Life of My Child," "Old Friends" and this, now one of my favorite S&G songs.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Song of the Day: The Dandy Warhols - You Were the Last High

I noted in my Brian Jonestown Massacre post that Dig! is a fantastic documentary, but I didn't even mention that The Dandy Warhols are a big part of the reason why.  Sure, Anton of BJM has some of the best scenes, and the Dandies come off a bit pretentious, but the dichotomy between the two bands makes for a really interesting story.

I'm not a huge Dandy Warhols fan, but I do think Welcome to the Monkeyhouse is one of the better records of the 2000s (not good enough to make my top 21 list, however).  I especially don't understand why today's song of the day wasn't a bigger hit - catchy chorus, trippy sound effects, breathy vocals...it's just a great song.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Song of the Day: Lou Reed - Satellite of Love

I've shared a song from the Velvet Underground, and I've featured a song from the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack, but now it's time to feature a Lou Reed (of the Velvet Underground) song (from the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack)*.  This is probably one of the prettiest songs in Reed's catalog, and it has a great backing vocal by David Bowie.  For a guy who wrote a ton of great songs with VU, I'd still have to put this in his top ten.



* I should note I've also shared a song by Velvet Crush, who have nothing to do with anything. Except to show that velvet is a popular rock material, apparently.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Song of the Day: Best Coast - Boyfriend

It took some time, but I finally learned to stop worrying and like Best Coast. I think the fact that they were so heavily hyped was an initial turnoff, but after repeated listens, I've really come to like the LP, and especially the lead track, "Boyfriend."  The background "ahhs" are especially genius.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Song of the Day: Dead Man's Bones - My Body's a Zombie for You

While I was initially suspicious of positive reviews of Dead Man's Bones, given the involvement of Ryan Gosling (who I like as an actor, but let's face it - the list of actor's in decent bands is a short one), I really enjoyed their debut album.  In fact, this track was one of my favorite songs of 2009, in part because seeing them play it live at the Echo with the Silverlake Conservatory of Music (about 20 kids, ranging in age from about 5 to 16) was an amazing experience.  The kids were so into this song and the chanting chorus, it was a real pleasure to see first-hand in such a small venue.

Click below for the song or read the following rant.  Apparently Grooveshark doesn't actually test new software before bringing it to the masses, and right now the song embedding isn't working.  Not only that, but my entire "now playing" queue of 170 songs was deleted with the new version.  And not only that, but now every time I go to the page, my queue is gone again.  Oh, and the site has frozen up numerous times in the hour I've been using it this morning.  But other than that, it works great!

The link:
http://listen.grooveshark.com/s/My_Body_s_A_Zombie_For_You/2p7G3J

The embed, which at the time of this posting isn't working, but maybe later it will?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Song of the Day: Mahavishnu Orchestra - Birds of Fire

If there's one genre I know less about than rap, it's jazz.  My first exposure to it was Miles Davis's Bitches Brew, an album I still enjoy (and a beer I very much enjoy).  And while a Miles post may be forthcoming, today I wanted to spotlight a less familiar artist.

As with Who's Next, my dad had an album by Mahavishnu Orchestra on tape for his reel-to-reel; however, he wasn't sure which album it was.  The opening track stuck with me for years, and it was probably 15 years after the fact that I saw a cheap used copy of Birds of Fire on vinyl and decided to see if it was the album I remember.  From the opening gong (yup, gong) it was pretty clear that I had found it.  The guitar playing, by Bitches Brew sideman John McLaughlin, is nothing short of amazing.  The track is probably more rock than jazz, and you certainly don't have to give two shits about jazz to realize this guy can tear it up.

Playlist: November 2010 songs



Or listen on Grooveshark here

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Song of the Day: The Soft Pack - More or Less

I bought tickets to see Kurt Vile, not knowing that the headliner of the show was actually going to be The Soft Pack.  I listened to their eponymous album a few times, and seeing them live made me realize they sound a lot like The Feelies (which is a very good thing).  Now that I've listened to the LP quite a few more times, I'm having trouble picking a song - it's a consistently good album with no filler.  But "More or Less" is my favorite today, so let's hear it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Song of the Day: Velvet Crush - Time Wraps Around You

Velvet Crush is another power-pop band that I found during a heavy Big Star phase (others include previous entries Sloan, Teenage Fanclub and The Bigger Lovers).  I really like that this song is from an album titled Teenage Symphonies to God, which is allegedly a phrase Brian Wilson used to describe the music he was writing for the Beach Boys.  They're not quite at that level, but this song has great harmonies and sounds like one you've heard before.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Song of the Day: Temple of the Dog - Hunger Strike

Like most otherwise rational Americans, I ate way too much this past weekend, so when I was deciding what song to post for the song of the day, "Hunger Strike" seemed to be an appropriately titled ditty.  I recently posted about my love of Pearl Jam, and I've even posted this song before, albeit in a different form.  I came of age in the '90s - what can I say?  I could probably turn this into a grunge blog, but that wouldn't be nearly as much fun as having a playlist with Black Sabbath, Kanye and Morrissey, would it?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Song of the Day: The Lucksmiths - The Art of Cooking for Two

Today would have been an ideal day for "4-Day Weekend" (and it still is), but I've already played that card.  So instead I'll get cute and play another appropriately titled song, given that it's just me and the wife for Thanksgiving tomorrow - "The Art of Cooking for Two" by The Lucksmiths.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Song of the Day: The Auteurs - Unsolved Child Murder

I don't remember how this song ended up in my Grooveshark player - I like to give credit to the source when I can, but this one is a mystery.  In fact, I can't tell you anything about this band because this is the only song I've ever heard of theirs.  Is this what life was like pre-Internet?

Looking at allmusic.com I'm surprised to see the album (After Murder Park) that includes this song was produced by Steve Albini.  This particular song sounds like an amalgam of Badly Drawn Boy and The Clientele, though neither of these artists had even put out a record when this album was released.  At any rate, now I'm even more curious to hear more - thanks Internet!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Song of the Day: Kanye West - Gorgeous

I'm not the world's biggest Kanye fan (that would be himself), but I definitely like some of the singles off his albums.  With his new album dropping today and getting perfect scores from everyone from Pitchfork to Rolling Stone, I thought I'd weigh in with my favorite song off of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.  I'm not quite as in love with the album as everyone else seems to be, but I really like "Gorgeous," which features a guest spot from Kid Cudi and has a similarly catchy chorus to his "Pursuit of Happiness."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Song of the Day: Black Sabbath - Fairies Wear Boots

It's Friday, which can only mean one thing - it's time to rock! Who's with me?!?!?!?!?!?!

No one?  OK.  Well, today I felt like playing some Sabbath.  Not sure why, but they've been on the brain lately, and when I was in Amoeba this past weekend, I somehow walked out having purchased copies of Master of Reality and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath on vinyl.  This was not a planned purchase, but it was a necessary one.

However, I'm not going to play a song from either of those; instead, I'm going with the album I already had - their best known (and probably best), Paranoid.  While the title song and "Iron Man" are classic rock radio staples, I'm going with a "deep cut" for today - "Fairies Wear Boots."  I believe this warrants a \m/

(I had to google how to do that. Don't judge)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Song of the Day: Harvey Danger - Flagpole Sitta

This song made these guys one-hit wonders, but I think they deserve a little more credit than that - their albums are filled with quality songs, even though they weren't hits.  But still, this one is undoubtedly the best.

Every time it starts, I think I'm about to hear "Sgt. Rock (Is Going to Help Me)" by XTC due to the drums (click the link and tell me if I'm wrong).  I really like the snark of the singer, and the line that "only stupid are breeding" couldn't be more true today.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Song of the Day: Morrissey - Seasick, Yet Still Docked

I've already proclaimed an affinity for The Smiths and their many acolytes, so it's probably no surprise that I'm a Morrissey fan as well.  I recently bought the newly reissued Bona Drag compilation, which includes some of the singles off Viva Hate (my favorite LP of his).  But my absolute favorite song is "Seasick, Yet Still Docked" (from Your Arsenal) in which he tones down the whine and self-deprecation and delivers one of his most beautiful, sad songs.

(Note there's about 15+ seconds of silence at the beginning of this track.  Do not adjust your sets) 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Song of the Day: Aloe Blacc - I Need a Dollar

I've known about Aloe Blacc since yesterday. Actually, I've seen his name before, but when I saw this retweet from The Echo that he's playing there in December, I thought I'd check him out.  I loaded his Good Things LP into my Grooveshark player and have now listened to it a grand total of two times.  Still, one song sticks out, and perhaps due to its repeated chorus (verse?), it was stuck in my head all day yesterday.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Song of the Day: The Velvet Underground - Oh! Sweet Nuthin'

The Velvet Underground's first album, The Velvet Underground & Nico, was my initial exposure to the band, and I was hooked immediately.  Though depending on the day of the week, I have a slight preference for the slick sweetness of Loaded to the earlier, rawer output.

In particular, my favorite Velvets song, "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'," closes out the latter LP.  Everything about this song is perfect, from the guitar line that plays throughout, the ethereal backing vocals during the chorus, the searing guitar solo and ferocious drumming...while this song doesn't epitomize the Velvets (for example, it's not sung by Lou Reed and drummer Mo Tucker doesn't play on it), it still is seven of the greatest minutes I've ever heard.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Playlist: October 2010 songs



Or listen here on Grooveshark

Song of the Day: Kurt Vile - Overnight Religion

Kurt Vile's Childish Prodigy was on my turntable for a while earlier this year, but I've been putting off posting a song.  I got a chance to see him last night at the Echoplex, which put him back in the queue.  He's a guy who seemed to come from nowhere, though he has a lot of older records and EPs under his belt.  Live and on record, his songs are more like a chugging train than well-constructed, verse-chorus-verse songs - the Velvet Underground's "Waiting for the Man" would be a good example of what I'm failing to elucidate.  Early VU is definitely a reference point, as are The Stooges and Neil Young's Crazy Horse output. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Song of the Day: Blackalicious - Blazing Arrow

Blackalicious is a group that can easily fit in with classic De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and The Pharcyde - groups with a mostly positive message that sample a diverse catalog, rather than just old P-Funk records.

I didn't buy many hip hop records in the 2000s, so take with a grain of salt that I found Blazing Arrow to be one of the best I heard of that decade.  Gift of Gab is a pretty amazing rapper, and you can hear in this song, the title track of the album (despite its incorrect labeling on Grooveshark as being on The Craft), how quick he is.  If you like classic underground rap, I'd highly recommend Blazing Arrow.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Song of the Day: New Order - Age of Consent

Joy Division is a great band, but I always found Ian Curtis's voice to be extremely dark and disturbing. With song titles like "Isolation" and "Love Will Tear Us Apart," perhaps that was the point.

Bernard Sumner, on the other hand, has an innocence to his voice that serves this and many other songs well. You can hear New Order's influence in bands as diverse as Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Hot Chip, and while I probably listen to their acolytes more than New Order themselves, this is a terrific track.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Song of the Day: Say Hi to Your Mom - These Fangs

Say Hi to Your Mom (which changed its name to Say Hi a few years ago, for some reason) songs sound like they were made in a bedroom - often very intimate, without a lot of tracks or overdubs. This one reminds me a bit of Brendan Benson's "Tiny Spark," mostly due to the keyboard riff.  I wish the vocals were a little higher in the mix, but otherwise this is a pretty perfect slice indie pop.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Song of the Day: The Mooney Suzuki - Oh Sweet Susanna

For a band that allegedly named themselves after two members of Can, I can't say these guys sound all that much like Can. Granted, I am not a Can aficionado, though I own their Ege Bamyasi LP and have heard others. Instead, The Mooney Suzuki sound more like a '60s garage band, wearing leather shades and black sunglasses cranking out three-minute dirty pop songs.  Or maybe I just got that from their Electric Sweat album cover.  Either way, if you like "garage rock," you could do worse than "Oh Sweet Susanna" off said LP.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Song of the Day: Devendra Banhart - Now That I Know

I bought Devendra Banhart's first album based on a Pitchfork review, and while it didn't blow me away, there is something about his music that is alternately frustrating and exhilarating. I keep buying his albums, though they never leave me quite satisfied.

It's mostly due to what appears to be a lack of self-editing, starting with the album length. Most of his albums are over an hour and include a few duds. So why do I keep buying them? Well his good songs are damn good. Take this track, the opening song off of his Cripple Crow album. Just him and a guitar, it's a gentle, whispering track that avoids some of the questionable lyrics of his other songs.



Side note - watching the Parenthood TV show last season, there were two Devendra Banhart songs played during one episode. I never would have guessed his songs would show up in a mainstream TV show, but what do I know?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Song of the Day: Pearl Jam - Oceans

This recent article from the AV Club about Pearl Jam inspired me to share one of my favorite PJ tunes.  They were one of the biggest bands for me (and many others) growing up in the '90s, and I'm so old (school) I actually still have the CD longbox of Ten.

I believe I've seen Pearl Jam live 5 or 6 times, and though I've been losing interest with each album (though solid, they are not spectacular), they still are one of the best live bands you can see.  In that vein, one of my favorite bootlegs is their appearance on MTV Unplugged.  The recent Ten super fantabulous delux redux edition not only featured a DVD of the entire performance (the first time I had seen it), but a 2LP live show called Drop in the Park (I should mention the remastered edition, and especially the "redux" edition, also sound fantastic).

I always enjoyed "Oceans" on the original album, but this version from their Unplugged appearance is far superior.  Vedder's voice sounds amazing - I wonder if he can still hit those high notes - and the bass is really clear and up front.  Just a fantastic performance.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Song of the Day: M83 - Kim & Jessie

My first experience with M83 was their Teen Angst video, but it was 2008's Saturdays = Youth LP that made me a fan.  The whole album is steeped in the '80s - of course, synths are all over the album, but they're always prevalent on M83 LPs.  "Kim and Jessie" features a number of sounds that wouldn't have been out of place on a Tears for Fears album (the drums that kick off the song or the guitar solo, for instance). 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Song of the Day: Warpaint - Undertow

I've featured a Warpaint song before, but I would be remiss not to mention how good the new album is.  The first single is particularly amazing - the singing is clearer, the new drummer is killing it - and I wonder if this will push them over the edge in popularity.  I'm incredibly bummed that I'll be out of town for their December show at the Troubadour, as it will probably be the last time to see this band in a venue that small.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Song of the Day: Metallica - Eye of the Beholder

Metallica was actually a fairly recent "discovery" for me, believe it or not.  It's not that I didn't know they existed - I'd have to be pretty oblivious for that - but I didn't realize that I actually liked their music.

A big part of the problem for me was their vehement anti-Napster stance a decade ago.  As someone who was using Napster to try stuff before buying (yes, I'm a perfect angel), I found it disingenuous that a bunch of rich guys were worried about a few people getting their music for free.  Not to mention, Lars came off as the world's biggest asshole with that entire escapade.  But hey, do I only listen to bands who are nice people?  The Rolling Stones seem to only care about money at this point, but it doesn't make Exile on Main St any less awesome.

At any rate, I always liked Metallica's "One," so when I saw a used copy (take that, Lars!) of ...And Justice for All on vinyl, I decided to give it a try.  And unfortunately, I kind of loved it.  Since then, I've procured Master of Puppets, Ride the Lightning and yes, Metallica (the black album), and while I like them all, Justice remains my favorite.  "One" still packs a punch, but the song I kept wanting to hear was "Eye of the Beholder," which shares a side with the former on vinyl.  Luckily, I also found a copy of the seven-inch at the Pasadena City College flea market - check out the picture sleeve below.



Friday, October 29, 2010

Song of the Day: Small Faces - Long Agos and Worlds Apart

Ogden's Nut Gone Flake is often in the fringes of "best albums of all time" lists, despite the fact that it wasn't very popular in the US.  But its influence can be heard in many excellent UK bands, from Blur to Supergrass to Field Music.  It's very much a part of the psychedelic scene that brought us Sgt. Pepper, and in this track, you can hear instruments panning from one side to the other, handclaps, and some phenomenal drumming. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Song of the Day: Rogue Wave - Falcon Settles Me

Rogue Wave's Out of the Shadow and Animal Collective's Sung Tongs are the two records that come to mind when I think of my first few months in LA.  I was listening to these records religiously, and they are both still my favorite records in either band's catalog.

While Animal Collective took some time getting into, I loved Rogue Wave instantly.  There's very much "a guy and his four-track" feel to the album (though admittedly with much better production, and probably more tracks), and sure enough, Zach Rogue played all or most of the instruments himself.  This intimacy is missing from their later albums, which were recorded with a full band.  While there are still enjoyable moments in each, none of them is as consistent as the debut.  My favorite song changes every time I hear the album, from the solemnity of "Perfect" to the bounciness of "Kicking the Heart Out."  But today I feel like sharing "Falcon Settles Me," which features some great harmonizing from this one-man band.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Song of the Day: South - Keep Close

South's debut album, From Here on In, got a decent amount of buzz for being released on James Lavelle's (UNKLE) label, and despite good reviews for their subsequent albums, I don't know that I ever read anything about them anymore.  Admittedly, though I really love this album, I only recently purchased 2008's You Are Here.

The debut has a great sound to it - very atmospheric, likely due to Lavelle's production.  This track could be a Happy Mondays outtake, except that the singing is more clearly enunciated (not difficult to do).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Song of the Day: Highlife - F Kenya Rip

Man I have no idea why I added this song to my Grooveshark playlist, but the more I listen to it, the more I love it; in fact, I just ordered Highlife's Best Bless LP (EP?) yesterday, though this is the only song I've heard.  It reminds me a lot of Foreign Born and Fool's Gold, with the Afropop feel to it.  Really looking forward to hearing the entire record.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Song of the Day: Sufjan Stevens - They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back from the Dead!! Ahhhh!

My eighth concert in the last month was this past Saturday's Sufjan Stevens show at the Wiltern.  He's currently touring for his new The Age of Adz LP, and while I'd love to share a song from that album, I actually haven't heard it (long story short - I preordered it on vinyl and it's yet to arrive). 

Instead, I'll share my favorite song from his Illinois LP, which I actually played on Indie 103.1 when I was a guest DJ (my Indie 103.1 playlist can be listened to here).  I love the bassline in this song, and like most of his songs, the arrangements are spectacular - strings, keyboards, and of course the voices all sound wonderful.  After a couple of listens, I guarantee you'll be spelling Illinois the rest of the day.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Song of the Day: Final Fantasy - This Lamb Sells Condos

I'm going to see Owen Pallett at the Echoplex tonight, so I figured it was time to share one of his best songs. He may be better known as Final Fantasy, before he had to change the name, or he may be even more well-known as an arranger for Arcade Fire and other bands.

I'm really looking forward to the show, as I understand that he plays and loops himself, as Liam Finn and Jon Brion do. He's also a terrific violin player, though this song ignores the violin in favor of showcasing his piano skills. I really like the female voices in the second half of the song, and it's just a very strange, mesmerizing track. It's also the only song I can think of that uses the phrase "massive genitals."  In fact, this is the real reason why I'm posting it here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Song of the Day: Belle and Sebastian - I Want the World to Stop

Well I repeated a band on Tuesday, so let's go ahead and do it again.  I've been listening to the new Belle and Sebastian a lot, and while it's not quite as eclectic as their last LP, The Life Pursuit (one of my favorite records of the 2000s), it's definitely on par with their earlier output.

In fact, I hadn't heard Write About Love when I saw B&S in concert a few weeks ago, and I had trouble discerning the new songs from the old ones.  Apparently I was about the only one with that problem, as they have a very faithful and excitable fan base (I should note I'm a pretty huge fan but don't know all their records inside and out.  Also, this was my second time seeing them, and both times they put on one hell of a show).

When I did finally hear the album, I instantly recognized this song as one of the best from the show.  The bassline is amazing, and it's probably the catchiest song on the LP.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Song of the Day: The Corin Tucker Band - 1,000 Years

I'm a huge Sleater-Kinney fan, though I'm a little embarrassed that I haven't yet posted a song of theirs on the blog.  I'm sure I will make amends shortly, but in the meantime, I wanted to post a track from Sleater-Kinney's lead singer, Corin Tucker.

I haven't yet heard the entire album, but the title track off of her band's recently released 1,000 Years LP is a great start.  It's a lot less frantic than most of Sleater-Kinney's output, but I love how the song slowly grows in intensity, and her voice still sounds terrific after a few years out of the spotlight.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Song of the Day: Deerhunter - Desire Lines

After roughly 240 songs, this is the first time I'm repeating a band (not counting a couple of "double features").  It was inevitable, and while I certainly haven't run out of bands to blog about, I can't ignore the fact that the new Deerhunter record, Halcyon Digest, is fantastic.

Upon first listen, I was a little disappointed to hear a lack of songs as catchy as "Never Stops" from Microcastle.  But after repeated listens, I'm enjoying this one almost as much.  Picking a favorite song is always tricky, but the "whoa-oh"s of this track have been stuck in my brain for days. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Song of the Day: Kid Cudi - Pursuit of Happiness

When I went to see Lissie a couple weeks ago, she ended her show with a song that I hadn't heard before. I noticed that for the first time all night, the Troubadour security guys were getting into the show, so I figured she must have been playing a cover (not to mention, it didn't really sound like her other songs).

The next day, I saw a tweet that mentioned it was Kid Cudi, so I tracked down this song on Grooveshark.  I listened to it a few times last week and ended up having it stuck in my head all weekend, so now I thought I'd share it on this blog.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Song of the Day: Fu Manchu - Boogie Van

After two concerts in two nights, I need something loud to keep me awake (I'm extremely old).  I don't listen to Fu Manchu often, and I'm not really sure why.  If you want big riffs that practically beg you to play air guitar, look no further than these guys.

Their King of the Road LP is my favorite, and as the name implies, it's a great album for a long car ride, with song titles such as "Hell on Wheels" and my favorite song, "Boogie Van."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Song of the Day: Killing Joke - Eighties

I had never heard of this song until I read this AV Club article that mentioned that a certain popular '90s band had pretty much ripped it off.  And you know what?  It's probably true - the riff sounds very, very similar.

I like this song, and it led me to check out more Killing Joke - specifically, their eponymous debut and a best of compilation. However, I have to say I didn't care for much of what I heard, but I'd be open to a recommendation.

Plus, if anyone can name the song that this inspired in the comments (without clicking the link above or peeking at the tags for this post), I'll be very impressed.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Song of the Day: Gomez - We Haven't Turned Around

Gomez's Liquid Skin is one of my favorite albums of the 1990s.  The most immediately striking aspect of the band is the voice of the lead singer, Ben Ottewell.  His gravelly voice is particularly perplexing when you see him in person, as he looked like a tall, skinny nerd (at least he did in those days).  But the reason this album succeeds for me is the different voices in the band (three guys sing lead), and the almost rootsy approach the band takes in the studio.  There are a lot of acoustic guitars, and some of the songs almost feel like campfire renditions.

However, the production is way too professional to be mistaken for lo-fi.  My favorite song on the album, "We Haven't Turned Around," introduces strings and features some of Ottewell's best singing.  As a bonus, this song is playing in the background in a scene from the movie American Beauty.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Song of the Day: Donny Hathaway - Jealous Guy

A lot of John Lennon talk lately, given that it would have been his 70th birthday last week.  Rather than share one of his songs, I thought it might be fun to post one of my favorite covers of his songs.  I had never heard of Donny Hathaway before this post on Aquarium Drunkard, so many thanks to them for introducing me. His live album is really fantastic and would certainly appeal to fans of Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder.  Unfortunately, like Lennon, he passed away too young.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Song of the Day: Suede - We Are the Pigs

As I've written quite a few times, I'm quite a Britpop fan.  However, Suede, one of the bands often mentioned as the epitome of Britpop has, until recently, never made much of an impression on me.  I had made the same judgment about them that's often levied against one of my favorites, Morrissey and the Smiths - that they are too whiny.

You can hear it in this song, "We Are the Pigs," but I've come to enjoy Brett Anderson's voice, and the guitars in this song are amazing.  I'm still digging through the Suede catalog, but if other songs are this good, I have been grossly misinformed (by myself, mind you) about this band.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Song of the Day: Dirty Projectors - Gimme Gimme Gimme

After receiving my "Live at Other Music" Dirty Projectors LP in the mail yesterday, I felt that it was finally time to post a DP song.  They are without a doubt one of my favorite bands right now, and I've been lucky enough to see them in concert at four very different venues in the past two years.

My first exposure to the band was the Rise Above LP.  I knew it was an album of "covers" of Black Flag's Damaged, but that didn't really mean much to me - at the time, I had only a cursory experience with Black Flag's music, and I had never heard Damaged.  As it turns out, these really aren't covers, as much as they are re-imaginings, on par with the transformation Hendrix made of Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower."

Rise Above took a few listens to absorb - for starters, Dave Longstreth's voice may be an acquired taste (I now love it, but upon first listen...).  Not an acquired taste, however, is the backing vocals, which are unbelievably beautiful throughout the album.  Even if you don't appreciate Longstreth's voice, you have to admire his arranging skills with not only the voices, but also the instruments.  Not only that, but his guitar playing is amazingly...distinct, for lack of a better word - I can hear a DP guitar part and immediately know who it is.

"Gimme Gimme Gimme" is the song that always comes to mind when I think of Rise Above, and after seeing the Dirty Projectors in concert, I'm even more in awe of this song.  The way that the two ladies, Amber and Angel, bounce the "oh ah"s back and forth is something that must be witnessed in person.  And now that they've enlisted an extra female voice, the vocal theatrics really take on a new level.

If you don't have the opportunity to see them live, give Rise Above or Bitte Orca a try - at least once with headphones for full effect.



I think you'll agree these two versions couldn't be more different. Here's Black Flag:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Song of the Day: 764-HERO - Oceanbound

The quality of 764-HERO's Nobody Knows This Is Everywhere LP is in spite of the unfortunate album title (a play on a Neil Young album).  It doesn't sound much like Neil Young, instead invoking a little bit of emo and a lot of indie rock.  The opening track has a great chorus and some of the raggedness of Crazy Horse; unfortunately, this 2002 album is the last these guys have released.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Song of the Day: Yes - Roundabout

Yup, prog!  OK, so I've noted that prog isn't really my thing - but a lot of the prog bands have some good songs amongst the wankery, and it's crazy to dismiss a whole genre just because most of it sucks (I believe that's called stereotyping, which is wrong).

Yes actually has quite a few good singles, and while it's hard to call an almost nine-minute song a single, "Roundabout" does get a lot of classic rock radio airplay (or at least it used to - it's been a while since I listened to the radio).  Granted, this song would be better if it were half as long, but the bass intro is really amazing, and the last minute could almost pass for Crosby, Stills and Nash. 



And like many prog albums, the cover art is pretty sweet:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Playlist: September 2010 songs

Have a favorite song from this playlist? Please let me know in the comments

Song of the Day: Brendan Benson - Tiny Spark

This is another song I was hearing a lot on Indie 103.1 when I first moved to LA.  There is something about it that sounded instantly familiar, even though I knew I hadn't heard it before.  It's such a catchy song, and much more of a Pop tune than Benson's work with The Raconteurs.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Song of the Day: Jenny and Johnny - Switchblade

I've already mentioned that Jenny Lewis is awesome, and I had high hopes for this record with her boyfriend and contributor, Jonathan Rice.  So much hope, in fact, that I bought tickets when they went on sale to see them at the Troubadour on Tuesday, even though I just saw them last night, opening for Belle & Sebastian.

After a couple listens, the album is definitely good, but this track is fantastic. I was riveted when they played it live, and I'm looking forward to seeing them again tomorrow.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Song of the Day: Pavement - Trigger Cut

Last night I saw Pavement's reunion at the Hollywood Bowl (with Sonic Youth and No Age, no less), so today it's time for even more Pavement.  I was lucky enough to see Pavement a couple of times during their heyday, including a show at the Cat's Cradle and at Lollapallooza '95, where they were on the bill with Sonic Youth.  I bought all their CDs, then all the vinyl, and then all of the "redux" CDs...so yeah, they're a big band for me.  But I honestly don't remember my first exposure to the band, but I think it was buying Crooked Rain after reading a positive review in Rolling Stone.  That quickly led to a Slanted & Enchanted purchase, and they became one of my favorite bands.

(Though admittedly, I was a little turned off by the Smashing Pumpkins and Stone Temple Pilots - two bands I enjoyed, and still do - disses in "Range Life."  At last night's show, they played that song, but Malkmus just sang, "dah dah dah Smashing Pumpkins dah dah" rather than the actual lyrics.  I'd love to know why)

It's damn near impossible to pick a favorite song, but today it's "Trigger Cut" off of Slanted, a song that showcases everything they do well - interesting guitar tunings, seemingly nonsensical lyrics, and catchy "choruses."