Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween

As we head off into the Halloween weekend here I wanted to do my part and leave you with something spooky to listen to. This track is eerie as hell. Delia Derbyshire was one of the early pioneers in British Electronic music, she wrote the theme song to the original Dr. Who even. Her own individual career never really took off unfortunately. Unfortunately, in 2001 she passed away leaving behind a limited, yet quality amount of creepy songs.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Low Anthem

Though technically released in 2008, The Low Anthem's sophomore album Oh My God, Charlie Darwin has been getting a lot of buzz this year. They recently played a sold out show here at The Troubadour, and have been getting great crowds at festivals, it's not hard to see why. This eclectic folk group takes a familiar sound and breathes new life into it. Part Dylan-esque lyrics with a Bon Iver softness to it, and part bombastic ramshackle blues with a Tom Waits edge. The Low Anthem capture American beauty and ugliness at the same time, they are another one of the folk groups in recent years who have made it to the big leagues because they are just damn good. I have posted two tracks exemplifying their range of sound.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A.A. Bondy

Fall is here, and with it comes songs that capture the ambience of it. Probably the best song that breathes autumn comes from folkie A.A. Bondy's newest release When The Devil's Loose. Bondy definitely has a pre-Newport Dylan thing going on, but he has his own unique appeal interjected in his music as well.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mighty Baby

Mighty Baby were an extremely underrated and undervalued band from the early '70s. They should have been the British answer to The Grateful Dead, however their popularity never took off and the band shortly dissolved. However they left behind one great album A Jug of Love, which features this great rambling jam.

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Keep on Jugging

Monday, October 26, 2009

Them Crooked Vultures

One of the most anticipated releases of this year is the debut album of Them Crooked Vultures, a supergroup consisting of Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) singing and playing guitar, Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana) back on the drums, and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) on bass. There has been a few teaser clips of material released, however "New Fang" is the first officially released track. This sounds exactly what you would expect from three lords of rock. I don't usually pay attention to supergroups, but I have to admit, the possibilities are exciting.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tiny Vipers

The cover for this album is perfect because this is one of those releases that would be great to listen to when you're by yourself watching the embers of a fire fly upward as you ponder quietly. Tiny Vipers - Life on Earth is a quiet little 2009 release that needs more attention because in its simplicity lies its haunting beauty.
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Local Natives

This Los Angeles native band has been gaining a lot of buzz lately, and when an L.A. band gets blog buzz I'm all up on that shiz. Check them out they have recently been playing shows with Mr. Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Release: Alec Ounsworth

You may recognize Alec Ounsworth's voice from some other band when you pop this disc in. That's because Ounsworth is the front man to the popular blog-fueled indie band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. With a long hiatus from CYHSY, Ounsworth has crafted a solo disc that may prove to have more depth than his original band. Mo Beauty is indie-rock does New Orleans. Filled with a whisky soaked brass section, and local New Orleans artists. Ounsworth even re-located to The Big Easy to be as authentic as possible, thus resulting in Mo Beauty a record that shows Alec is more than just a whiny voice and blog hype. It shows that he's actually damn good at crafting a song.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Anyone who guesses which Beastie Boy's song samples this David Bromberg track gets a cookie. Tremendously underrated.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

New LCD Soundsystem

Dammit I love these guys. Whenever I want to get my feet movin' LCD Soundsystem is my go-to. This track is a cover song that won't be featured on their highly anticipated 2010 release, but it does give us a great taste as to what the band's been up to, and makes me eager for more.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Needs to Stop: Bob Dylan

First, I must say I am a huge Dylan fan, I've listened to all of his albums, I've read his biography, I have a deep respect for what he has done for music and song-writing. He is an unquestionable legend, a true genius of his craft and I would say is only rivaled by The Beatles in sheer influence on other artists today. With that being said, Bob Dylan needs to stop making music and playing concerts, for awhile. That's a pretty bold statement and I'm sure I will get a lot of flack for it but it's the conclusion I came to after seeing him live for the second time this past weekend. He played The Veteran's Memorial Coliseum  in Phoenix Arizona. It was at the state fair, and tickets were fairly reasonable so I figured why not. The ticket said doors at seven. So I got there at seven-thirty only to walk in on the concert being halfway over. Apparently he started playing even before seven. I quickly found my seat figuring that he must have just started. Nope. He was actually close to finishing. The concert ended before eight-thirty. No real reason why, there was no curfew, and the fairgrounds didn't close till midnight. Bob must have just been tired. As the house-lights went up an entire arena of people looked at each other with bewilderment. It was only eight-thirty! Barely dark! I still had time to go to another concert somewhere else if I felt like it! That's one thing that annoyed me.
    When I saw Steve Miller Band a few years back, I was truly amazed. The guy sounded exactly like he did in the 70's, he poured his soul into a three hour note perfect show. He proved to me that even old acts can put on a stellar show, they just have to try. Dylan did the complete opposite. I've known he's lost his voice for many years, but he straight up garbled his words the other night. Not only that but he completely changes the structure of his songs making them nearly incomprehensible. I don't mind a little variance, but when it takes me a minute and half to realize that he's playing one of my favorite song's "Ballad of a Thin Man", we've got problems.
    On top of that he picks a poor selection of songs. He played essentially the same setlist when I saw him in 2005. He's been stuck in this kick-back to his blues era of Highway 61 Revisited. I'm all for hearing some of those types of songs, but Bob, you have a gigantic catalogue of music! Use it! I want some variety, I want to hear stuff from Desire, or New Morning, or even Street Legal! Quit playing the same set of songs all the time, and please stop closing every show with "Like A Rolling Stone" or "All Along The Watchtower." Yes they're tremendous songs, and you have earned a great deal of popularity for them, but at your age, you have some other songs that you should take off the shelf before you bite the dust. A well executed "Masters of War" would have been a powerful finish for a concert, especially given the circumstances of the world today. To me Dylan's faux-blues band that he's been touring with comes off like a half-assed cover band rather than something exciting and genuine like previous bands that he's toured with such as The Band, or The Paul Butterfield Blues Band.
    His recent albums haven't been very impressive either. Sure Love and Theft had it's moments, but Modern Times and this year's Together Through Life are bland, uninteresting and completely unessential to his career. Critics try to squeeze every thing they can out of them, and make it seem like they're worthwhile so he might grace them with an interview or a cover shoot. His second release of 2009 is a Christmas Album. Christmas Albums are notorious for being stains on Artist's careers, and this one is no exception. With each listen of Christmas at the Heart I get the feeling that Zimmerman here is losing touch with reality.
    This all leads me to the conclusion that Bob Dylan needs to stop. I know we only have him in this world for a short time, and people want to be able to tell their kids that they were able to see him live, but he's hurting his career. It's hard imagine that a person with such stature in music history could hurt his career. I love Bob Dylan and his music will forever be influential. However if he keeps releasing bad records and playing un-inspired shows it does not bode well for his image. They say that Bob Dylan has done everything and he has nothing left to prove. That's not true at all. He, like many other old artists still have to prove that he still can do it, even at his old age. And from what I've seen and heard recently, he's not accomplishing that.

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Drifer's Escape

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Henry Clay People

This will be my last post for the week, for I will be traveling all weekend and will not be able to get to a computer. As I leave Los Angeles, I wanted to post a L.A. band that is really making waves. The first band that came to mind is The Henry Clay People. A local group here that has gained a lot of buzz recently for their Replacements sounding punk vibe. They have recently gone from playing tiny clubs to doing national tours, opening for Ben Harper, and even playing some major festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits. Some critics find it hard to believe that this good of sound could come from this city. Last year I had the pleasure of presenting these guys on my campus, they were about to go on their first national tour with The Airborne Toxic Event. The few people that showed up got a balls to the wall killer rock show. The Henry Clay People's boozy free-spirited rock vibe may just be the next big thing. If you have the opportunity of seeing these guys live, I highly recommend it.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bosque Brown

A quiet little 2009 release that needs more attention.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Say hello to my new obsession, the Los Angeles psychedelic rock group Warpaint. Their EP Exquisite Corpse is slowly becoming my go-to for early fall mornings. I'm posting two tracks here to show their range. "Billie Holiday" the acoustic sing-along track, and the more electric track "Elephants" One thing significant about these ladies is their debut was mixed by Red Hot Chili Pepper John Frusciante, who I believe added a little backing guitar on some of the tracks. Warpaint has easily proven themselves as an under-the-radar band that deserves your attention.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

The Death of Confetti: A Flaming Lips Review

Reinvention is a dangerous and hard thing to accomplish in the world of music, however if done correctly it can propel a band into a wide spectrum of new possibilities. The Flaming Lips are no strangers to this, they have done it twice before. With In a Priest Driven Ambulance, The Lips began to take their garage-punk and add bigger guitar riffs, and experimentation. With The Soft Bulliten, the group transformed into the confetti-drenched positive psych-rock group that made them a spectacle to behold at music festivals around the world. However, with their disappointment of an album At War With The Mystics, Wayne Coyne and co. found themselves in a position that no experimental rock group wants to be in, mundane. The only thing the group could do is this situation is to alter their sound drastically, and that's exactly what they did.
     Embryonic is simply The Flaming Lip's most audacious release to date, and is also their most risky. For they might alienate and lose a lot of the fans who were interested in their crisp-positive vibe. Embryonic is dark, murky and bombastic. A lot of critics are making the note that it feels like Miles Davis's Bitches Brew. I believe this observation is spot on, this album takes sudden left turns without notice and flows with a fusion jazz spirit.
    What I like about Embryonic is how it actually sounds like a band is jamming together in a room, not like their previous few records where it seems like each individual instrument was recorded then layered on each other. The drums and bass are loud and thunderous, akin to Black Sabbath. Wayne's voice and lyrics take a step backwards, and is not as present. However, his echoey voice in the background adds to the overall spaced out feel to this record.
    What I don't care for is there are a few too many false-starts and sloppy improvisation for my liking. I feel that a majority of these tracks are necessary to the album, after all this is not just a collection of songs, they are all connected, the band wants to take you on a journey. It's just some of them aren't interesting enough to hold my attention.
     Overall, Embryonic could be a huge step forward for this band, or a flop. I do enjoy this album and it more than lives up to the hype. One thing is for sure you can't scold an experimental band for experimenting, and you have to give them props for keeping their sound fresh and interesting.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Late Discoveries: Spoon - Kill The Moonlight

Late Discoveries is a new periodical for ST&SP. It has been created because we're only human and can't be up on every band on the planet. Sometimes we arrive late to a great album. In this case is Spoon's tremendous record Kill The Moonlight. I have been a fan of Spoon since Gimme Fiction and I absolutely loved Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga however I never really gave Kill The Moonlight a spin until recently. I am so glad I did because it has quickly become my favorite Spoon album. It is their most varied and well-crafted album to date, full of great hooks. If you like Spoon and don't own this record I recommend picking this up. And if you aren't familiar with Spoon, start here.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Goin' to Hell on a Sled

Just dusted this old psych-country gem, from the great and under-appreciated John D. Loudermilk.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Silver Seas

Loved this song when they used it in my favorite TV Show Breaking Bad.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Foggy Night

It's been foggy over here in my part of Los Angeles, for a few weeks we haven't seen a full day of sun, and when I see gloomy foggy days I'm usually listening to Tom Waits. The track posted below is a performance from a radio-show he did in '74 here in L.A. Maybe one day I'll upload the whole thing.

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Foggy Night (Live)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

20 Best Albums of the Decade (According to Me)

None of this is definitive. Every single one of these "top"lists are purely opinions. That's the beauty of it, you can read these kinds of things and argue them or praise them. It all adds to the overall conversation of music. These twenty albums might not align with the industry "experts" but I think they are important in their own right. So here we go...

1) Radiohead - Kid A

There is absolutely no questioning the legitimacy of Radiohead. Each one of their albums has pushed the envelope of experimental alternative rock in some kind of way. Before Kid A was dropped in 2000, the band had been riding high on success of The Bends and OK Computer. Many critics thought that with OK Computer the band had reached their pinnacle. This gave Radiohead no room to breathe. There was no way they could continue delivering the same big guitar sound of "Paranoid Android" without coming off as repetitive. So rather than succumbing to it, they completely stripped their sound, dropped their guitars and picked up synths. This gave birth to Kid A an absolute achievement in re-invention and experimentation. Without this album, Radiohead might have hit their peak earlier in their career and gone by the wayside. However, with this album they clearly show that they are a band, like so few bands before them, who are able to drastically change their sound for the sake of keeping their art invigorating.

2) The White Stripes - White Blood Cells


Well, you saw it coming didn't you? I mean after all this blog is named after a lyric from this album. Down the line, there will probably be arguments that their next album Elephant has the upper-edge on this one but I pick White Blood Cells on the sheer diversity of material on this album. It's hard to imagine that just two people are able to create so much with such minimalist settings. This was the album that drove The White Stripes to prominence and it only took Elephant to take them to superstardom. The music video for "Fell In Love With A Girl" deserves an entire blog by itself, and it just may be the last great film in the dying art of the music video.

3) Daft Punk - Discovery 

I am one of those types who generally has a dislike for techno, but loves Daft Punk. Daft Punk became the standard in their genre, and their album Discovery has become a regularly mixed album at raves. From start to finish this album will have your body moving in some kind of way. Recently, the rave culture has flourished, and has almost become akin to that of Disco. If that is true, then Daft Punk is The Bee Gee's of their generation. Even though there is so much more to Daft Punk, their mysterious identities behind their robot helmets, their strange avant-garde silent films, and their life changing (to say the least) live shows, what keeps them anchored is they know how to make amazing music to dance to. And Discovery is their masterpiece.

4) Arcade Fire - Funeral

Arcade Fire are still a fairly young band, but they are going to have a hard time living up to the greatness of their debut Funeral. The odd thing about Arcade Fire is that individually there is nothing great about their music. However, when all of the elements come together it creates something magical, tremendous soul-drenched landscapes. "Wake Up" alone is proof of this.

5) Sigur Ros - Ágætis byrjun 

A religious experience. Words cannot describe how other-worldly beautiful this album is. These Icelandic boys know how to make grown men cry. 

6) Animal Collective - Sung Tongs 

And who said good experimental music is dead? You might recognize Animal Collective from this year's smash hit album Merriweather Post Pavillion. Yet, Sung Tongs is where it all started. The thing about Animal Collective is their strange experimentation often leads to some god-awful songs. This album was their transition from their grating songs that one couldn't bear listening to into some spectacular psychedelic-pop gems. Songs like "Leaf House" "Who Could Win A Rabbit?" and "We Tigers" are all templates for the Animal Collective that they would later become. What I find amazing about this group is that they are still fairly new, yet have influenced numerous other artists that are on the rise as well. That is the true mark of a brilliant band.

7) Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

CBS News recently did a piece on Wilco, stating them as "The biggest band that nobody's ever heard of." Sadly, in this day in age is true. I can't believe there are some people out there who don't know who Wilco are. Wilco, the All-American great folk/rock/country band delivers their masterpiece here. Personally, I am partial to Sky Blue Sky but I will acknowledge the genius behind this album. I mean after all not too many records get a documentary name after them. 

8) Sufjan Stevens - Illinoise 

If you haven't heard "Chicago" then you have been living under a rock. Sufjan Stevens, the man determined to record an album dedicated to every state before he dies delivers his opus about Illinois. This album is seamless chamber-pop is unique and enjoyable from start to finish. And hey according to some study he'll even make your kids smarter. 

9) LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver

God I love LCD Soundsystem. James Murphy makes some of the best music to work out and to drive to. Just blast this album when you're driving late at night with the windows rolled down. I guarantee you will enjoy that drive. What makes LCD Soundsystem great is their ability to produce their pseudo-techno disco-punk with using mainly conventional instruments and a minimal amount of synths. James Murphy and his tight-as-fuck drummer Pat Mahoney lead the way as they blow the competition out of the water. "All My Friends" is one of the best songs of the decade, or any decade. 

 10) Bon Iver- For Emma, Forever Ago

Seriously, where the hell did Bon Iver come from? In 2007, no one ever heard of Justin Vernon. Then this guy breaks up with his band that no one's ever heard of, then he retreats into the woods like Henry Thoreau, and comes back with an album that he recorded that he didn't want anyone to hear, then someone sends it to a label for him and suddenly he's one of the best folk artists around! It's because this album is one of the most honest records of the decade. "The Wolves (Acts I & II)" especially show how hauntingly beautiful this dude's music is. 

11) Beirut - The Gulag Orkestrar

Who would have thought that in this decade brass gypsy music would rise to prominence. Especially who would have expected the best of this euro-centric genre to come from a kid in New Mexico. Zach Condon was a senior in high school when he recorded this by himself in his basement. What resulted was The Gulag Orkestrar a lush album that makes you feel like you're riding along in the rural part of France. 

12) DJ Danger Mouse - The Grey Album

The Grey Album is the mecca of all mashups. Taking The Beatles White Album and playing a cappella tracks of Jay-Z's Black Album the two seamlessly mold together creating this completely original sounding work of art. For the longest time this has been the most downloaded album in internet history, it has spurred much controversy surrounding the illegal downloading debate and subsequent lawsuits from both The Beatles and Jay-Z. Since then DJ Danger Mouse has gone on to be a mega-producer for such bands as Beck and The Black Keys, he has also formed his own band Gnarls Barkley which created the hit song "Crazy."

13) Panda Bear - Person Pitch

It's not often that an artist's solo work outshines his main band's work but in Panda Bear's case it does. Panda Bear, a member of Animal Collective, released Person Pitch the same year Animal Collective dropped Strawberry Jam. What is unique to Person Pitch is it shows what elements Panda Bear brings to Animal Collective. Here he takes his Beach Boys-esque harmony and drenches it with lo-fi acoustic psych-pop.

14) M.I.A. - Kala

Sure, M.I.A. owes a lot to Pineapple Express's choice to use "Paper Planes" as the main song of that movie, but a lot of her popularity is accredited that she is damn good at what she does. Her songs are filled with angst and protest, her fashion statement is bold, and her unconventional mix of percussion creates a driving force behind her music that makes it incredibly good to dance to.

15) Drive-By Truckers - Brighter Than Creation's Dark

Drive-By Truckers are the best thing that's happened to southern rock in a long time, maybe since Skynyrd. Their 2008 release is their most textured and strongest to date. Their music varies between the pretty folk of "Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife" to the rip-roaring "The Man I Shot." The differences between singer/writers Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley's styles of music only add to the landscape of the dirty south. Drive-By Truckers sound like what would have happened if Neil Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd put their differences aside, formed a band and rocked the hell out.

 16) Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass

Yo La Tengo is the most steady bands of the decade. Every one of their albums has been an achievement in some way or the other, and has earned mass critical acclaim. Yet they still remain fairly unknown, why is that? It's because they are constantly exploring and experimenting with their sound and don't settle for anything. They are just as pleased with letting the fans come to them rather than creating radio-friendly music. I could have put any Yo La Tengo album from this decade on this list, but I chose this one because it's my personal favorite. From the get-go, this album
    roars to life with the ten minute epic prog-rock jam of "Pass The Hatchet, I think I'm Goodkind."              compare that to "Mr. Tough" one of the most upbeat pop songs I have ever heard. If the comparison of these two songs doesn't show this band's range I don't know what will.

17) Blitzen Trapper - Furr

I have never been to Portland Oregon, but I feel like I have after listening to this album. Blitzen Trapper encapsulates the ramble-tamble rock of the west coast. Eric Earley's lyrics paint some of the most vivid imagery of the past decade. Songs like "Furr" and "Black River Killer" are great achievements in song-writing.

18) Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

Pitch perfect harmony, and great song-writing are what make this Seattle folk group stand out. Did I mention these guys are great harmonizers?

19) Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest 

If Fleet Foxes have the best harmonies of the decade, Grizzly Bear comes in at a damn close second. Ed Droste is an amazing singer. I had the opportunity of seeing them perform with Wilco this past summer, when he sang the track "Foreground" off of this album, I have never seen a singer been able to completely silence a room with the power of their voice the way Droste did that night. These guys have been having a huge year so far. They have managed to gain respect from some music industry giants like Coldplay and Jay-Z. Hell, after seeing Grizzly Bear Jay-Z released a statement claiming how Indie Rock is going to contest Hip-Hop (click to read). Grizzly Bear have even been fortunate enough to have ex-Doobie Brother Michael McDonald to cover one of their songs. Why is all of this happening? Because Veckatimest is a damn fine record that's why.

20) Devendra Banhart - Cripple Crow

In the New Weird America Freak-Folk movement, this album must have seemed like Dylan going electric. Up to this point Banhart had been steadily releasing acoustic only minimalist records. This record is a departure from the comforts of folk music into the wide realm of rock and roll, samba and everything in between. This album is full of experimentation and serves as a bridge into what Devendra Banhart has become today.

Well, there you have it! My top 20 albums of the past decade. Before finishing this I managed to take a peek at Pitchfork's list and surprisingly my list matches up pretty well with theirs. Hmm, maybe I should apply for a job.