New Music Tuesday!

Tuesdays are new music day (when all the new releases come out), and for the past several months, I’ve religiously gone through the 20+ pages of new releases looking for the little gems that slip through the cracks or the albums that make my week. I usually post a couple to twitter, but hey, I have a blog, why not keep them for posterity?

So, for 4/12/2011, here are my new release finds:

  • Hit After Hit by Sonny & The Sunsets – Moody surf rock with a touch of Brian Jonestown Massacre (without the self-indulgent drug-fueled stuff – although I can’t guarantee that drugs weren’t involved in the making of the album).
  • Two Against One / Black by Danger Mouse – It’s just two songs, but the maestro is working with Jack White and Norah Jones. These two tracks are great and would be at home on either the next Broken Bells album or a Zero 7 album. Great trippy stuff.
  • Nine Types of Light by TV On The Radio – I’ve always wanted to like this band but they’ve always been more art than rock. But from the first song on this album, the pretense has been replaced by kicked asses and soul. It all comes together in that first song: horns, guitars, and vocals.
  • And it’s not really a new release, but nyctaper released a fantastic show from Explosions in the Sky yesterday that contains a sneak peek at their new album (plus all your favorites). Totally worth downloading and cherishing forever.
  • This one isn’t “new” but it’s new to me (after hearing them a couple times on one of the CBC Radio 3 podcasts), but Hooded Fang are awesome!

I’ll try to update this post as I find more, but these should keep you busy for a while!

PS – Don’t forget, we’re still hiring!

Categorized as music Tagged

My Favorite Albums of 2010

I’ve done a bunch of “best of” music lists over the years, but this was one of the hardest. I gave up on limiting it to ten almost right away and went right to 18. There was a ton of great music this year across a bunch of genres (as you can see by the list). I don’t have time to describe them all now, but you owe it to yourself to check them all out.

Again this year, there’s an appearance by some spectacular mashup work. Girl Talk gets all the press, but The Kleptones released the best album of the year with their double album. Uptime/Downtime is amazing, and while Uptime will keep you dancing, Downtime is the more impressive to me. It sounds like a complete album and you don’t feel like you’re listening to mashups. They’re just great songs. With most mashups, you’re totally aware that you’re listening to a bunch of stuff that wasn’t meant to go together. In the best ones, they’re all made to work and sometimes build an even better song out of the component parts. In the Kleptones’ case, even way back to A Night at the Hip-Hopera, they build great songs out of the pieces they find lying around to the point where you forget that these songs even existed in another form.

  1. Uptime/Downtime by The Kleptones
  2. Heligoland by Massive Attack
  3. Broken Bells by Broken Bells
  4. The Lady Killer by Cee Lo
  5. New Inheritors by Wintersleep
  6. Permalight by Rogue Wave
  7. Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons
  8. The Suburbs by Arcade Fire
  9. Together by New Pornographers
  10. Fields by Junip
  11. This is Good by Hannah Georgas
  12. We Kill Computers by The Pack A.D.
  13. Wake Up! by John Legend and The Roots
  14. Mt. Chimera by Brasstronaut (not available on Amazon, you have to get it from Zunior, but trust me, it’s worth it!)
  15. Of the Color of Blue Sky by Ok Go
  16. All Day by Girl Talk
  17. The Five Ghosts by Stars
  18. Latin by Holy F\^ck

And I can’t leave without an honorable mention for new discovery: Lungs by Florence + The Machine – I think I’ve listened to this album more in the past few months than almost anything else in the top 20.

Categorized as music

Thanks, Kidzbop!

This is one of the sexiest things I have ever seen. You should see it too, and it’s safe for work!!! (The good stuff starts at 1:40):

For several weeks, I’ve had the phrase, “What do you want from me?” running around in my head and spontaneously coming out of my mouth, in song form. One day I actually paid attention while watching Nickelodeon with the kids and saw that it was from a song on Kidzbop 18.\
I decided if I heard the real version, maybe it would finally get out of my head. Google led me to this performance on The View by Adam Lambert, which I immediately LOVED. I had heard of Adam Lambert before, but since I don’t watch American Idol, he was basically unknown to me. Apparently he was also one of Barbara Walter’s Top 10 Fascinating People of last year, who knew? Oh, I also had a vague recollection of some controversy about it being ok for girls to kiss on stage but not guys. But for the most part, I didn’t know anything about him or his music.

One Youtube clip always yields another, yes? I ended up listening to a bunch of his stuff. Check out: Fever, If I Had You, Soaked, and Mad World. Soaked and Mad World completely blew me away. And if you don’t like them, keep that to yourself. Don’tcha like how helpful I am 🙂 but you should just go youtube the hell out of him yourself, especially the American Idol performances. And his new stuff. And some of his older stuff.

Though I am late to the party, I’m glad I am finally here! These songs are going on my “Music to dance to while doing chores so I don’t stab myself in the eye with a spork” playlist, which can never be large enough if you ask me. As famous as this guy is, he doesn’t need me pimping for him. But for those of you living in cave like me, you should definitely check him out.

Categorized as Jen, music

Best Albums of the Decade: 2005-2009

This is a continuation of my list for the first half of the 00’s. This list is by release year according to my iTunes library, not by the year I “discovered” the album, and are in no particular order. Let’s get right into it:\
h4. 2005

  • The RosebudsBirds Make Good Neighbors: Folk pop at its best. The songs are bouncy, fun and great for car trips. They’re a blast to sing along with.
  • Rogue WaveDescended Like Vultures: Great alt-pop with killer melodies and infectious guitar riffs
  • Sufjan StevensIllinois: Sometimes he’s a little “precious”, but this album is full of immense songs, some of which bring me to tears. It’s gorgeous, rich and a great headphone album.
  • Holy F\^ckLP: Analog techno. Lovely Allen alone makes this album, but there are three or four other songs on here almost as good. According to iTunes, I’ve listened to Lovely Allen 128 times… that should tell you what I think of it.
  • OK GoOh No: Known mostly for their awesome videos, this album is full of really fun pop songs. You can’t really go wrong with any of them.
  • EelsBlinking Lights and Other Revelations: You can’t miss with an Eels album and this one’s no exception. Lovely songs, puncuated with some real butt kickers.
  • Fruit BatsSpelled in Bones: Wow, 2005 was a great year for music. This is one of my all-time favorite albums. The songs are insanely catchy and I sing along pretty much whenever it comes on.
  • Sigur RosTakk…: This is their most “accessible” album, and you’ve probably heard a lot of these songs in various TV shows and movies in the past couple of years. Great atmospheric headphone rock.
  • The ConstantinesTournament of Hearts: Other than Kensington Heights, this is my favorite album by the band. Working Full-Time is one of my favorite songs ever, and Soon Enough is a classic. There are very few albums where all the songs on it are great, and this is one of them.
  • New PornographersTwin Cinemas: One of Canada’s many indie “supergroups”, these guys are the best. Great songs, awesome harmonies and catchy hooks… I love ’em. And at this rate, I might never get to 2006. Oh, no, look… there it is!\
    h4. 2006
  • CaribouUp In Flames: I know the genre’s pretty much dead, but this reminds me of the too-short trip hop bloom in the late 90’s, especially Sneaker Pimps. You won’t be singing along with any of these, but you’ll be bouncing your head uncontrollably.
  • Gotan ProjectLunatico: Tango music for the 2000’s… this album oozes sensuality and lust. You might sweat a little listening to it, and that’s OK. Embrace it.
  • MalajubeTrompe L’oeil: Quebecois rockers really know how to put together a rocking pop song. I like this album better than their most recent one – it’s tighter and more “fun”.
  • PhoenixIt’s Never Been Like This: If you like their 2009 album, you’ll love this one. More of the same… which is awesome.
  • Regina SpektorBeing to Hope: Yes, I know it’s cutesy, but these songs are really well written and a lot of fun. There’s nothing wrong with fun, you mopey hipsters.
  • Zero 7The Garden: If anyone’s taken up the mantle of trip hop, it’s these guys. Lovely downtempo hang out and chill music. Lovely melodies and artful production make for a great headphone or dinner (or headphones during dinner) album.\
    h4. 2007
  • Arcade FireNeon Bible: They’re little indie darlings, I know, but this album is really good. Listen to it again and forget all the stupid beefs and coverage. It’s so so well done.
  • Band of HorsesCease to Begin: The first five songs on this album are spectacular, maybe the five best songs of the whole year. The other songs on the album are just great… you’ll have to forgive them.
  • The DecemberistsThe Crane Wife: I think I may like this album more than Hazards of Love. Sons and Daughters will make you stand on your chair and sing along at the top of your lungs.
  • Great Lake SwimmersOngiara: This is on my short list for the best album of the decade. Masterful songwriting and just heart-breaking lyrics make this album unforgettable. It’s folksy and beautiful… it will haunt you for months.
  • Kaiser ChiefsYours Truly, The Angry Mob: The best sing-along album of the year, easy. We listened to this album about a dozen times on a road trip. You’ve never laughed until you’ve heard a three year old belting out “WOOBY, WOOBY, WOOBY, WOOBY!!” at the top of his lungs.
  • New PornographersChallengers: This album is even better than Twin Cinema, if that’s possible.
  • Polyphonic SpreeThe Fragile Army: I like their first album better, but this one’s still really really good. It’s sort of alt-“Up With People” for grownups… but great.
  • The ShinsWincing the Night Away: This is my favorite album by the band. It’s light and catchy alt-pop with a little melancholy thrown in.
  • SpoonGa Ga Ga Ga Ga: Oh so poppy and delicious. The kids will sing along with this album any time it’s on too.
  • WintersleepWelcome to the Night Sky: For Weighty Ghost alone, but the rest of the songs on this album are solid rockers.\
    h4. 2008
  • Beach HouseDevotion: Blissful atmospheric pop songs with some weird instrumentation. You really just have to go listen to it.
  • Doctor Horrible’s Sing-along Blog Soundtrack: Mock if you must, but the soundtrack is really good!
  • David Byrne and Brian EnoEverything That Happens Will Happen Today: So gorgeous. Every track is lovely and this album contains some all-time great songs.
  • Fleet FoxesFleet Foxes: Gorgeous folk harmonies and masterful songcraft… you need this album. You really really do.
  • Flight of the ConchordsFlight of the Conchords: Funny, yes, but these guys actually put together some great songs.
  • Bon IverFor Emma, Forever Ago: A lot like Fleet Foxes… so what I said about them, is true for Bon Iver and this album.
  • WoodhandsHeart Attack: High enery analog techno, a lot like Holy F\^ck, but I think this album is better as a whole than HF’s LP.
  • ArkellsJackson Square: These guys sit somewhere between Spoon and The Constantines, and that’s a mighty fine place to be.
  • The ConstantinesKensington Heights: They’re one of my all-time favorite bands, and this is easily their best album.
  • Sigur RosMed sud I eyrum vid spilum endalaust: Another great album. It’s amazing to me that I haven’t gotten tired of their sound. Each album shows just enough progression to keep me wanting more.
  • SloanParallel Play: Great alt pop. They sound a lot like Spoon, which isn’t bad at all.
  • Presidents of the United States of AmericaThese Are The Good Times People: I thought these guys broke up, but nope… this album is amazing. Their sound has matured just enough so the songs don’t feel like toys anymore. They’re really well constructed power pop with some real emotion in them.\
    h4. 2009
  • VariousDark Was the Night: A great compilation from charity, this album is full of great bands spreading out and experimenting a little. Usually, those kinds of albums would be tedious, but this is all good.
  • The AntlersHospice: Haunting and heartbreaking – they sound a little bit like if Sigur Ros and Radiohead had a really depressed teenager… but in a good way.
  • The DecemberistsHazards of Love: This is a great album – and I don’t even care about the story. I think this is my favorite headphone album of the year – full of layers of masterful playing.
  • EelsHombre Lobo: The whole album tells a great story (what is it with rock operas this year?) and is filled with a great mix of ballads and butt kicking rockers.
  • The DodosTime to Die: Their first two albums almost made it to the lists for the years they came out. This is their third (I think) album and I think they’ve finally cracked it. Great pop songs all around.
  • Movits!Äppelknyckarjazz: It’s mostly awesome for the sheer novelty of Swedish swing hip hop (yeah, I know!)… but the songs are actually really good.
  • Fruit BatsThe Ruminant Band: This is the band’s best album so far, and each of those has made one of these lists. The songs are so well put together and lovely, I can’t help but listen to it over and over and over again.
  • PhoenixWolfgang Amadeus Phoenix: I know, everyone’s talked this album to death, but it is amazing how these guys put together pretty much perfect pop songs.
  • PomplamoosePomplamoose VideoSongs: You may have seen them on YouTube or any of the other places they’ve shown up recently, but Nataly and Jack are just awesome.
  • MorphineAt Your Service: This collection of mixes, rare and live cuts is the perfect thing for a devotee like me. Some of them are better than the album versions and it’s just good to hear new stuff from a band that ended too soon.
  • Zero 7Yeah Ghost: Their latest is just as good as their first, with a couple minor exceptions. There are two songs on this album just just don’t belong at all and kind of mess up the mood the rest of the album conveys.
  • Rodrigo y Gabriela11:11: You must listen to this album just to be completely blown away that such a rich sound can be created by two people playing just two instruments. It’s acoustic heavy metal flamenco music, and it’s brilliant.\
    Whew, there you go! I’m done! I don’t think anything else is coming out in 2009 that’s going to make the list so I feel pretty secure putting this list to bed and looking forward to 2010!
Categorized as music

No More Applications, Please

Everyone and their mother-in-law seems to be covering Beyonce’s Single Ladies these days, but you can all stop now. Really. No more. It’s over. I’ve found the best cover of the song, and I really don’t think anyone’s going to top it. See?

By the extremely talented Pomplamoose Music. Check out the rest of their stuff on YouTube, especially their version of La Vie en Rose – it’s gorgeous.

Categorized as music

The Best of the Decade: 2000-2004

Some folks on twitter (I saw Mark Trammell and Corey Denis do it) have started posting their top albums from the 2000’s. Now that’s an idea I can get behind! So, here are my top albums from the 2000-2004. I’m going to try to do just three albums per year, but I love my music, so we’ll see how it goes. I’ll post my favorites from the second half of the decade soon.

  • 2000
    1. EelsDaisies of the Galaxy: This is still my favorite Eels albums. It’s heartbreaking and gorgeous throughout, except for the awesome and funny I Like Birds.
    2. The Crystal MethodTweekend: Just for Name of the Game… that song is so awe-inspiringly awesome, there’s no reason for any other song to be on the album. The clean version, the explicit one, doesn’t matter. It’s ten tons of kickass in a two pound sack.
    3. Amon TobinSupermodified: Unlike anything I’d heard before, or probably since. This album, a lot like Massive Attack‘s Mezzanine is still used in commercials, tv shows and movies to make you think something is futuristic or scary. I’ll bet you’ve heard Get Your Snack On and Four Ton Mantis dozens of times.
  • 2001
    1. Zero 7Simple Things: When I need to calm down and take a break, this is the band, and the album I turn to. The vocals are gorgeous and the music is lovely. In the Waiting Line and Simple Things are my favorite tracks, but I can listen to the whole thing on repeat for hours.
    2. CakeComfort Eagle: Yes, it’s commercial rock, but it’s infectious… oh so sweetly infectious. Short Skirt/Long Jacket is a fantastic song, and Comfort Eagle is great and not commercial at all. Give it up, this is just a great album.
    3. The Constantines – umm, The Constantines: If you want rock, you can’t go wrong with this band. I’ve written about them several times before, and they just keep getting better. But, this album has some of their best all-out rockers, and one of my favorite ballads of all time: the haunting St. You.
    4. Gotan ProjectLa Revancha Del Tango: Oops, we’ve already broken the rules. Here’s album number four from 2001, but I just couldn’t leave it out. It’s gorgeous latin tango with a trip hop twist and I still listen to this album all the time.
  • 2002
    1. Lemon JellyLost Horizons: Another album I can listen to on repeat for hours. This is the perfect coding music. It’s got great hooks but just flows from track to track. It’s not like anything else you’ll hear, but it lovely nonetheless.
    2. Sigur Ros – ****: This is the first album I got by the band and I was hooked. If you don’t know who Sigur Ros is, shame on you. Second, go get this album. If you like it, then get Takk and everything else they’ve done.
    3. LunaClose Cover Before Striking and Romantica: Cheating again! But, since they released two albums in the same year, and I love them both, you get a two for one. This band writes great songs that kind of fall outside of genres. I think that puts them firmly in “Alternative Rock”, but that sells them short. They’re just great songs, masterfully played and produced.
  • 2003 – I am totally going to cheat on this one. 2003 was an amazing year of music.
    1. Fruit BatsMouthfuls: Kind of like Luna, these guys defy genre for me. They sound like a band out of another decade, but the songs are so… perfect… that I can’t help but love them. I sing along with every one.
    2. The WrensMeadowlands: Enough feedback to fill a dozen albums, but these guys make it work somehow. Alternating between kicking ass and crying in their coffee, this is a great album to try to sing along with… if you can understand any of the words through the feedback.
    3. EelsShootenanny!: This album has my all-time favorite Eels song on it, and one of my favorite get-up-and-go tunes. Saturday Morning rocks. It’s dumptrucking sugar in your morning cereal, playing outside from sun up to sun down and moving as fast as you can because there’s daylight a-wastin’. It also has one of the greatest ballads of ever on it: Somebody Loves You.
    4. Sufjan StevensGreetings From Michigan: The Great Lakes State: In one word, Sufjan Stevens’ work is heartbreaking. Always artful, gorgeous and layered, you just can’t get away from one of his albums without a tear in your eye.
    5. MewFrengers: Rockingly awesome and that’s all. I can’t really describe what’s so great about this album, but it grabbed me from the first chord on the first song and doesn’t let go through the whole thing.
    6. Massive Attack100th Window: It’s not as good as Mezzanine, but it’s still ten times better than almost everyone else. When Your Soul Sings is particularly good, though, and would have fit in nicely between Risingson and Teardrop on that album.
    7. The Polyphonic SpreeThe Beginning Stages of the Polyphonic Spree: Jen calls them “Up With People for grownups”… and she’s not really wrong. They’re kind of goofy and happy, but the music’s so damned good. It makes me smile every time. This is my favorite album of The Spree’s three so far.
  • 2004 – The year of the mashup!!
    1. The KleptonesA Night at the Hip-Hopera: How can you go wrong mashing up classic Queen and hip-hop? You can’t. Well, at least, they can’t. I listened to just this album for over a month.
    2. Zero 7When It Falls: They successfully followed up Simple Things with another gorgeous album. The songs are a little more complex than on their first album, but still beautiful and mesmerizing.
    3. DJ BC and the BeastlesThe Beastles: The Beatles + The Beastie Boys = AWESOME. It’s so freaking good, especially Tripper Trouble and Mother Nature’s Rump.
    4. Arcade FireFuneral: Granted, I didn’t actually buy this album in 2004, but it’s still really really good.
    5. David ByrneGrown Backwards: I’m a huge David Byrne fan, and this is my favorite of his recent albums. I love his music because even though you really never know what you’re going to get, it always sounds like a David Byrne song – which is a lot of fun.\
      There you go… I only cheated, well, a lot.
Categorized as music

The Best Music of 2009 – So Far

Sound Opinions’ most recent podcast listed their favorite albums of the year so far. I did this last year, and there’s been so much good stuff so far this year, it’s time to do another one. So, here’s my list of the best albums of 2009 so far:

  1. Hazards of Love by The Decemberists: I love everything on this album. The fact that it’s basically a Rock Opera only helps. It’s great on a lot of different levels, but my favorite thing about it is that it’s great at many volumes. Turned up loud in the car or through headphones, the fantastic guitar work comes through. When quieter, the lovely vocals and lyrics are the stars. Really, you should get this before you do anything else.
  2. Hombre Lobo by Eels: Another rock opera from one of my all-time favorite bands, this one doesn’t disappoint at all. It’s got the sad ballads, and the ass kicking rockers that the band does so well. Fresh Blood is now my second favorite Eels song of all time (after Saturday Morning). The whole album is great, and it was hard to choose which album to be at one or two, but this album could have easily been number one.
  3. Eating Us by Black Moth Super Rainbow: Silly band name aside, this band is amazing. They’re somewhere between Zero 7, Massive Attack and Holy F*ck. Great analog techno, fantastic beats – this is an awesome headphone album.
  4. Lost Channels by Great Lake Swimmers: Ongiara is one of my all-time favorite albums, and this one picks up where it left off, adding some new sounds, but generally keeping the masterful folk ballad front and center. I love the addition of harmonies and some of the new instruments, but the heart of their sound is the lyrics.
  5. Dark Was the Night by a bunch of great people: I don’t normally get compilations, but this has a ton of my favorite artists on it, so I couldn’t resist. This album is worth the price just for Grizzly Bear‘s heart-breaking Deep Blue Sea and The New PornographersHey, Snow White. The album is solid throughout, and the collection of bands they got to perform on it is staggering.
  6. Hospice by Antlers: This is firmly in Massive Attack territory, so I’m going to instantly perk up at anything that follows in one of my all-time favorite bands’ footsteps. It’s melancholy, atmospheric and so layered, it took me a dozen times through it with headphones on to pick them all out.
  7. Fantasies by Metric: This album is a little uneven, but the high points are worth the price of admission. If you like The Breeders or Luscious Jackson, you’ll love this album.\
    There are a few albums that came close to making the list that are still good, but not quite good enough for the list. The latest from Vetiver, Malajube (I liked their previous album more), Sunparlour Players and Portland Cello Project are all worth checking out as well.\
    What are your favorite albums of 2009 so far? Come on, share!
Categorized as music

SxSW 2009 Music: Best of the A’s

Every year, SxSW posts a ton of free mp3’s from the artists that showcase at the music festival. And every year since 2004, I’ve downloaded all of them. This year, though, instead of just letting them take up space in iTunes, I’m going to try something. Between now and whenever I get through them, I’m going to try to listen to a letter a day (the playlist is alphabetical by artist) and do my best to rate every song. Then, I’m going to post my top ten songs from each letter here. Here are the A’s:

  1. Gardenias and Cigarettes by Ana Silvera – 5 stars – I love this song. It’s a classic gin-drenched torch song.
  2. The River by Anathallo – 5 stars – Another great ballad. If Bloc Party were acoustic piano rock, they’d sound like this.
  3. The Thief & The Heartbreaker by Alberta Cross – 4 stars
  4. Si Pero No by Alex Cuba – 4 stars
  5. Amanha eu nao vou trabalhar by Alexandre Grooves – 4 stars
  6. Government Meat by Ali Eskandarian – 4 stars
  7. To All Tiny Creatures by All Tiny Creatures – 4 stars
  8. Leeds United by Amanda Palmer – 4 stars
  9. One More Day by Amy Wadge – 4 stars
  10. Set The Bears Free by Anchorsong – 4 stars
  11. Oh, The Boss Is Coming by Arkells – 4 stars – I have to say, these guys sound a lot like The Constantines, which may be why I dug this song so much.
  12. These Flowers of Ours by The Asteroid #4 – 4 stars – Reminds me a lot of The Dandy Warhols.\
    This is totally unscientific, and I probably missed rating some songs (I do need to work during the day), but here are the A’s. I’m listening to the B’s today. And yes, I know there are more than ten, but they’re alphabetical within the number of stars, so I decided to list all the 4 and 5 star songs.
Categorized as music, sxsw

My Favorite Song of 2008

This is kind of cheating, because according to iTunes, the album was released in 2007, but I discovered them this year (again, thanks to CBC Radio 3). According to iTunes, I’ve listened to this song 85 times since I added it at the end of April. It may not sound like a lot, but for me, that’s huge. What is it? It’s Holy F@ck‘s Lovely Allen!! Here, listen:

How awesome is that? It never fails to make me bop my head and get the chills. It builds and builds until it reaches a fantastic crescendo of sound that just makes me happy to be alive. It’s not often I find a song that does that, and that does it every time I listen to it.

Categorized as music