• 10 for 10

    30 dec 2010, 15:57

  • '08 topperz

    7 jan 2009, 05:53

    This year, I was lucky enough to see a trove of live acts that were all some variation of awesome. The selection of my favorite albums was driven largely by great concert experiences.

    (Best onward)
    1. TV on the Radio - Dear Science
    The first single “Golden Age” filled me with doubt, even disappointment. I mean, it sounded like (immaculately produced) Michael Jackson, not TV on the Radio. But then I gave all of Dear Science my first listen. The opening track, “Halfway Home” buried my preconceptions and made certain they would not rise again like friggin' zombies. The album’s cohesiveness is what eventually forgave tracks like “Golden Age”, “Dancing Choose”, and “Family Tree” for me. Once I saw each song’s intended niche in the whole record, I was right at home. I really really like "Stork and Owl", "Crying, "Shout Me Out", "DLZ", "Lover's Day", and pretty much everything else on it. And they rawk in concert!?!

    2. Fuck Buttons - Street Horrrsing
    Life is gradual? Life is a loop? Fuck Buttons want to confirm these hypotheses, beginning with gently twinkling piano keys and swelling into walls of melodic static that may make your ears wince. The (rather lengthy) progressions of large major chords are often juxtaposed with harsh death-metal vocals, carried by their rhythm to compliment the whole. Seeing them play synths out of suitcases next to a plastic Sing-Along Cassette Recorder was one of the best experiences I’ve had all year.

    3. Deerhunter - Microcastle
    The detail in every tone. The pedalboards. The hooks and singability. The vocals soaked in reverb. The huge jam at the end of "Nothing Ever Happened". The sneak attack in "Microcastle". The bobbing, swelling chords that propel the words of "Little Kids". The sweaty basement in which they rocked the very socks from my feet. These are some of the best reasons I can think of for loving Deerhunter so hard. It never stops.

    4. Ponytail - Ice Cream Spiritual
    Manic, absolute crazy-sauce. Giggle, shred, stomp, harmonize, these guys and their guitars do it alllll. I didn't get to see in concert (jumping around crazily like I imagine every time I listen to them) but they have turned pretty simple chords into something well-paced and really fun to hear, and I absolutely appreciate it. "& Souls"! "Late for School"! "Beg Waves"!

    5. Girl Talk - Feed the Animals
    Girl Talk is a thief. He has stolen rhythm sections, vocals, yelps, and the beat. But I'll be damned if he doesn't use it better at times than the original composers. Feed the Animals is like the duration of a party with all of the highs and lows. Electronica and classic rock pour out with hip hop flowing over top of them, but each time, Greg Gillis makes it work in a way few could expect, chorus after chorus after chorus. Aphex Twin + Rich Boy, Queen + Michael Jackson, and M.I.A. + The Cranberries.

    6. Marnie Stern - This Is it and I Am it and You Are it and so Is That and He Is it and She Is it and it Is it and That is That
    Marnie Stern's glorious prog-gasm wasn't brought to my attention until mid-November, but it certainly makes my list. With riffs that alternate between delicate and metal-as-fuck, this guitar heroine lays down an amazing set of tracks, backed percussively by the pride of Hella, Zach Hill. Standouts include “The Crippled Jazzer”, “The Package is Wrapped”, and “Prime”. I would love to have my face melted by her licks.

    7. M83 - Saturdays = Youth
    Through all of the John Hughes-influenced voice-overs and the often silly drum samples, I cannot deny my love for this album. I didn't try to make it more than it was: a synthed-out pop record for teenagers who have a hard time paying attention to things besides their shoes. The addition of a full band and darn good female vocalist made seeing them really good. And I guess there were other things about their december show that made it special...4tt3mpt3d 4c1d? I'm all about "Skin of the Night", "Kim and Jessie", and "We Own the Sky".

    8. No AgeNouns
    This album is a rush of cymbal hits, fuzzed-out guitars and conciseness. The distinctive sound quality gives the impression of a garage band just plain rocking out. There are tracks like the closer, “Brain Burner”, an anthem so full of precise tone and searing rhythm. Favorites “Eraser”, “Ripped Knees” and “Here Should Be My Home” bring conventional chord structures to a different, more punkish plane. They also did a great job when I saw them this summer.

    9. The Dodos - Visiter
    Smart folk song-writing and upbeat drumming make the Dodos a really good catch. I really like the simplicity of the songs, combined with narrative lyrics that lend themselves. Over the summer in Chicago, I was fortunate enough to see singer/guitarist Meric Long create a loop on trombone and dive into “Fools”. Definitely dig: "Walking", "Red And Purple", "Jodi", "Winter", "Park Song", and "God?". Folk-Punk?

    10. Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles
    Crystal Castles are probably the scariest looking duo I have ever seen up close. When Alice Glass was crowd-surfing on top of me this summer, I was hesitant to grab her leg and hold her up, for fear that the grizzly keyboardist, Ethan Kath would plunge a knife into my stomach or bite me in the jugular. It would seem as though they just don't give a fuck. Or it seemed that way when Alice was stumbling around the stage on god-knows-what, dancing on top of the drumset and then climbing down from it on all fours. They are purported to have stolen lots of 8-bit beats and samples, visual art, and probably other things, but once again, do they care? Their album isn't at all a solid or cohesive whole, but tell me you don't want to dance when "Alice Practice", "Courtship Dating", "XXZXCUZX Me", or "Love and Caring" come on.

    Other amazing shit that I saw:
    Feet Night: Round Robin Tour (Dan Deacon, videohippos, Future Islands, Adventure, Double Dagger, Nuclear Power Pants, Smart Growth, DJ Dog Dick, etc) twice!!
    Health twice.
    Bon Iver twice(the album was a re-release this year, so I didn't count it)
    High Places twice.
    Animal Collective (Merriweather rocks, you guys.)
    Les Savy Fav twice, which is always a pleasure.
    Diplo, the most enormous dance party ever.
    Boris: holy hell, they's some rockers.
    Mogwai was the loudest and longest thing ever. Worth it.

    Things I was not quite as struck by, but were still pretty good:
    The Mountain Goats and Kaki King appeared to like cocaiiine
    St. Vincent
    The Mars Volta causes dry-mouth?
    Spoon
    Metric played a disco version of calculation theme, it came off weird.
    Sunset Rubdown, the first two times were way better.

    Things I had tickets to but didn't get to see for some reason:
    Liars (I need to. Like, neeeeeed.)
    Hot Chip (eh)
    Eyes Night: Round Robin Tour (Beach House, Wzt Heartsetc.)

    Whatever:
    Fleet Foxes, Vampire Weekend

    Thanks 2008, now if you don't mind, I'm off to catch some European tourz.
  • the ten

    18 dec 2007, 11:00

    10. Klaxons - Myths of the Near Future
    Klaxons deliver the quick and easy, extremely danceable pop tune, 11 times over. I'd bet that punk music on other planets is a lot like Klaxons.
    Favorites: "Two Receivers", "Magick".
    9. Feist - The Reminder
    A valuable record full of passion, beautiful instrumentation and Leslie Feist's rich, folky vocals. There are equal portions rock to deep thought on this album, making it all the more poignant.
    Favorites: "I Feel it All", "So Sorry".
    8. Handsome Furs - Plague Park
    This Dan Boeckner side project is characterized by bare bones recording, crunchy, yet piercingly clear guitars, and occassionally mournful crooning. Needless to say, I whole-heartedly approve of his minimalist style and anthemic vocal melodies. Plague Park will have you singing alone and wishing you weren't quite so sober.
    Favorites: "What We Had", "Dumb Animals", "Cannot Get Started".
    7. Battles - Mirrored
    This album is practically an explanation of why and how rhythmically complex music tickles my brain. The combined elements of math rock, metal, and vocally-distorted synth-pop separate Battles from other experimental groups of the time. Though their style is distinctive, it also tends to repeat itself at times, and the true proof of this album's versatility is its ability to pull you back for listen after listen. Signal is crunk, motherfuckers.
    Favorites: "Tonto", "Leyendecker", "Race In"
    6. Dan Deacon - Spiderman of the Rings
    Incredible layers of keyboard beeps, like a stack of pancakes gone completely mad, is what Dan Deacon's majestic vessel of goofball lyrics sails upon. Paced drum beats propel this super-bear of a man's stupendous chirps and fuzzy, rotund bass tones into your brain, and there's no fucking way they are going to leave without a fight. Also, he has some of the best audience decorum ever (+++LIVE).
    Favorites: "Wham City", "The Crystal Cat", "Trippy Green Skull".
    5. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam
    Animal Collective had already burrowed into a slightly dusty corner of my musical considerations before this album, but upon giving this album a onceover, they came to center stage. Avey Tare's shocking and brilliant vocal range leaves me wishing desparately that I could go from well-pitched falsetto notes to primal, throaty howling. The group's insane pop instrumentation shrouded in abstract buzzing and crackling is just the threshold for this trip of an album.
    Favorites: "For Reverend Green", "Peacebone".
    4. Sunset Rubdown - Random Spirit Lover
    A step forward into indie prog? Spencer Krug has been a personal favorite of mine for some time, having brought the more interesting elements to wolf parade, and having blown my fucking mind with his last sunset rubdown record. This album is a continuation of Krug's expert lyrical style and the guitar/piano lines that really catch my musically nerdy ears. Sunset Rudbown also put on two of the best shows I've ever seen.
    Favorites: "Winged/Wicked Things", "The Taming of the Hands That Came Back to Life".
    3. of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
    An ENORMOUS indie pop masterpiece. Kevin Barnes delivers to an astonishing degree, bringing catchy new melodies to the table on every track. More catchy guitar riffs than you can shake a stick at, a vocal range that makes bowie look boring, and complete nonsense abounds. The bombastic psychedelia of their live show influenced this decision.
    Favorites: "She's a Rejector", "Suffer For Fashion", "Gronlandic Edit".
    2. Deerhunter - Cryptograms/Fluorescent Grey
    More than being an album/band which is full of atmospheric songs, this whole album has an atmosphere about it. Even looking at the cover and knowing that this album is nearby gives me a pleasant chill. After being soaked in their live performance, I think that Deerhunter have truly amassed the ultimate form of noise rock.
    Favorites: "Cryptograms", "Octet", "Heatherwood", "Fluorescent Grey".
    1. Menomena - Friend and Foe
    As I was considering what album should be at the top of this list, my thoughts flitted across Friend and Foe. I decided at first that this album was not particularly solid, and may not have been as meaningful as other albums I had heard this year. But then I realized just how many times I have listened to all of the tracks on this album and how deeply it has dug itself into me. I have found myself humming Menomena 5 out of 7 days most weeks. These feelings are just the beginning of the amazing pull I feel from this group. Their incredibly catchy guitar licks/tones, crashing-booming drum beats, prancing piano melodies, and 3-man vocal crescendos bring their music an indeterminable distance into my consciousness. And they rock live.
    Favorites: "Muscle N' Flow", "My My", "Air Aid", "The Pelican"

    2007 was pretty damn good.
  • marooned

    27 nov 2007, 05:28

    i am cut off from 95% of my technological fixes for at least three weeks. this will be an interesting and infuriating experience. even after one day without music to sate me, i have noticed how much i take for granted as far as technology. i have also noticed that i am becoming more bitter, less patient, and generally unhappy. this is an ordeal my friends, but we will win through.

    p.s.
    for some reason i find myself having obscure thoughts about starcraft and the different strata of defense one erects to remain safe.
    my defenses are fucked, ya'll.
  • elliott smith was a fucking god

    20 apr 2007, 01:57

    i've been listening to a lot of Elliott Smith lately, far more than in the past, and i am amazed. he was a prodigious song-writer, and based on what i have been watching for a couple hours on youtube, an incredible live act.
    as if his immense catalogue of brilliant songs isn't enough of a testament to his greatness, the videos of him live are nearly flawless. he hits every pitch, and almost recreates the numerous layered voice and guitar tracks of his recorded songs, even when playing solo.
    his lyrics are very fluid, poetic, and for me, deeply engrossing.
    i may seem a little late to cross the finish line on this thought, but i just felt the need to synthesize my ideas and feelings about elliott smith's unadulterated talent.
  • thoughts on the explosions show

    19 mar 2007, 15:46

    Sun 18 Mar – Explosions in the Sky, Eluvium, the pAper chAse

    this show gets about an 8 out of 10 from me. eluvium took the stage pretty late (like 8:30?), but his set was pretty good. i thought that the way his songs gradually expanded into a wall of noise was really cool. he seemed to put a lot of thought into each part of the progression, using only 3 or 4 chords to create an eight or ten minute crescendo that left my body humming.

    then there's the paper chase. i'm not so sure about those guys. there's no doubt that they had the energy and well-rehearsed songs, but i just didn't dig them. the lead singer's nasal tones and uninspiring lyrics kind of made the soul-crushing dissonance of the instruments not worth it. while there were a couple of killer break-downs and pretty cool riffs, it was just not that fun to listen to.

    of course, when i saw explosions take the stage, i knew it was worth suffering through the paper chase. their instrumentation was so incredibly exact, at some points i felt that i was listening to the album. they played a lot of tunes off of "all of a sudden...", which still made for a great show. i only really had two problems with their set. number one, no encore! that just didn't seem right. my other disappointment was that they didn't touch on their first album, which i think is their best. it has some of the best material, but they played a couple of very good tracks from "the earth is not a cold dead place", which made me more forgiving. what absolutely made the show for me was when i heard the heavy, slow-driving chords of "help us stay alive". i'm not sure how many people have heard it or where they can find this song, but i have had it for a while, and i love it. it was fucking amazing to see all of their intensity manifest itself in such an epic song. they didn't play "your hand in mine" or "first breath after coma", which i am actually glad about. i bet far too many people came for those two and nothing else. their closer, "the only moment we were alone", was perfectly executed, with distant cannon blast samples, the heavenly sound of layered, floating guitars and even the little delay-filled trail-off at the end.
    in conclusion:
    pretty fucking great.
  • OH MY GOD PLEASE READ ME

    22 jan 2007, 17:16

    At first, I thought this might just be the best hoax ever:
    http://www.last.fm/event/66241

    Then I found at that it is just mostly hoax:
    http://pitchforkmedia.com/page/news/Rage_Bjork_Arcade_Fire_to_Play_Coachella#40622

    Then I started hoping At the Drive-In would get back together.

    Then I declared that I will let nothing keep me from this show.
    <3 Coachella
  • The Winds of Change

    17 jan 2007, 03:34

    Today I made the monumental decision of giving my last.fm profile an abortion. Starting fresh is always a good feeling, and 2007 is a time to be so fresh. Now we will see what I actually listen to besides At the Drive-In.
  • Music that pwns

    3 dec 2006, 05:57

  • Mandolin!

    23 okt 2006, 16:14

    If you see 'Dix Bruce' (as well as plenty of Zeppelin) a lot on my charts, it's because I'm learning folk Mandolin from a CD. Soon, I will be part of a multi-instrumental indie collective!