Wednesday, December 22, 2010

End of The Year Review: The Best Albums of 2010


1) The Black Keys - Brothers

            It’s always a hard decision to pin down amidst all the great albums released in a year the best album of the bunch. Honestly, I could argue for any of these first four records as the best of the year, but I’m going with Brothers by The Black Keys as my favorite long player of 2010. At the halfway mark of the year, I had listed this record as my eighth favorite record as of June, but then, something happened. I put Brothers in my car CD player and it stayed there for a very long time. I listened to this album more than any other release this year for very good reason, it’s a tremendous and solid record. Whereas on previous records, The Black Keys have opted for loud riff-tastic rough around the edges garage rock, that while highly entertaining always sounded like it needed something more. Then on Brothers they found something new, a groove. By adding an occasional bassist and keyboardist on a few tracks, their once DIY songs sounded smoothed out, and focused. This is the first  time that The Black Keys have sounded like a true band, rather than a couple of guys banging it out in their basement. From start to finish this album features solid song after song that experiment with a whole host of different styles of rock. Whether it be the T.Rex-esque opener of “Everlasting Light” or the cooled off blues of “10 Cent Pistol” This album has something for every rock fan, which is a hard task to accomplish. This album has paid off for these boys from Akron, as they have recently exploded on the mainstream being featured on MTV and diamond commercials using their songs. Will they be able to deal with success and not compromise their sound? Or will they go the way of Kings of Leon and try to capitalize on their new fame by reconstructing themselves? That chapter in The Black Keys history has still yet to be written. 

2) Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
This should have been my #1 album of the year. God knows, practically every single major reviewer in the country feels the same way about Kanye’s new record. They’re calling it a masterpiece, and one of the most important hip-hop records released in years. And who knows, maybe it will, only time will tell. One can never truly say an album is quintessential until a few years have passed and we are able to look back at it in retrospect. This record is certainly immense in its grandiosity, which I feel is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’s greatest strength and weakness at the same time. While I certainly love the epic feel to some of the songs, “Power,” “Monster,” “All of The Lights,” but after thirteen gargantuan songs, this record becomes too extravagant for its own good.

3) Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Deerhunter just may become the next band like Yo La Tengo to release one solid record after another. While Halcyon Digest has certain elements of their previous massive release of Microcastle/Weird Era Cont. they opted to try another approach to this record that I feel worked out very well in their favor. Halcyon Digest is a very intricate record, but you have to listen very closely to hear it. For instance, on first glance “Revival” may seem like a straight-up simple pop song, but on second listen one might begin to hear the mandolins, banjos, and harps used to pepper the song throughout. Bandleader Bradford Cox said that they were listening to The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St. a lot during the recording of this album. It makes sense how such a rich record could be influenced by one of the most complex LPs in rock and roll history. Also check out Cox’s side project Atlas Sound, who has just released Bedroom Databank vol.1-4, a compilation of 50+ demos recorded around Thanksgiving that is being given away for free online. 

  4) LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
          If the year had ended in June, this would have been hands down my choice for #1. I believe that twenty years down the line we will look back at this time period and will hold up LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy as a David Byrne figure. Talking Heads were the essential cool art band of the 1980s, and I believe that our children will see LCD Soundsystem as a tremendous influence on the next generation of artists. As dance and electronica becomes more popular with every rave, LCD Soundsystem offers a compromise that meets the techno and the rock kids halfway, offering a completely unique genre of music: disco punk. If this is LCD’s last record like Murphy has said since its release, then LCD Soundsystem has gone out on top of their game. While this record is a slight step down from Sound of Silver, This Is Happening is a great record to throw on and let loose. This album failed to produce a song as monumental as “All My Friends” but it did give us a few amazing dance jams, “Dance Yrself Clean” and “Pow Pow” are long songs with a constantly engaging beat. This Is Happening further confirms my long belief that James Murphy is the connoisseur of cool.

  5) Dr. Dog - Shame, Shame
This is another record that took forever for me to get into, but once it clicked I could not put it down. Shame, Shame is a true grower of an album. Some songs took no time for me to appreciate, “Shadow People,” “Where’d All The Time Go,” However it took a while for me to see what this album really is, a new modern twist on McCartney-tinged pop. Once I began to view the album in that light, I began to see that this is an album of all seasons. The band tackles a variety of techniques here, with the country tinged “Station” to the gospel-sounding “Jackie Wants a Black Eye.” I cannot recommend this band and album enough.

 6) Titus Andronicus - The Monitor
The fourteen minute closing number, “The Battle For Hampton Roads” sums up the immensity of this record. It’s anthemic, bold, daring, and above all a wild raucous of Jersey punk rock. These guys should not be lumped in with other punk bands however, they are in a league of their own. Titus Andronicus seem to have bigger plans than making simple punk rock songs. They are intelligent enough to make their music an experience. Their shows have become as legendary as Fugazi were in their early years. These guys have proven a lot in 2010, it’s going to be interesting to see if they will spend 2011 traveling around the world living out of a van, or will they take some time off? Whether they have a new record out or not, The Monitor is something they could tour in support of for a long time. It’s that great of an album.   
 7) Hot Chip - One Life Stand
 I had listened to One Life Stand a great deal towards the beginning of the year, but as the months passed I frequented it less and less. I guess that happened simply because other records were released that gained my attention more. This is a fine assortment of songs by Hot Chip, and is their best record to date. I am still confounded as to how a band makes their most melodic album also their most danceable. I will say they are more concentrated than LCD Soundsystem’s balls to the wall dance jams, but now they need to take all the talent that they have and try and create a few sure fire hits. They have it in them, and I bet their next record will be the one that brings Hot Chip to the same limelight that LCD has achieved.
8) Tame Impala - Innerspeaker
This album gained a lot of attention this year for their hazy psychedelic rock that echoes Pink Floyd. These guys seemingly came from out of nowhere and have suddenly become of the hottest tickets in town. Their instrumentation and overall ambience is what makes Tame Impala great. One minute they sound so blurry you could cut the fog with a knife, but the next minute they hit as hard as Black Sabbath. Keep them on your radar, they could be huge.
 9) Free Energy - Stuck On Nothing
When I first heard this record I thought, “Holy shit! Weezer sounds great again!” Sadly, this is not the new Weezer record, instead here we have a new DFA offering called Free Energy, a band once called Hockey Night that decided to re-tool their image as a no thrills riff-heavy glam rock band, enlisted James Murphy as a producer and thus became Free Energy. These guys have a ways to go before they get their chance in the spotlight, but are certainly making inroads (recently opened a tour for Weezer). There is nothing particularly groundbreaking about this record. The lyrics and instrumentation is fairly simple. What makes Stuck on Nothing great is it is simply a fun party-rock album. Sometimes it’s great to say “Fuck art, let’s dance!” and this album is certainly a testament to that. Andrew W.K. would be proud. 
 10) Ty Segall - Melted
I recently named San Francisco’s grime-garage rock scene the best of 2010. To me, Ty Segall’s Melted stands out as the best of that movement. It’s loose, slimy, and a raucous good time. 

 11) Drive-By Truckers - The Big To-Do
The world’s greatest bar band returns with their hardest rocking album since The Dirty South. Patterson Hood’s razor sharp wit takes aim at the economy in “This Fucking Job” However, what really impresses me about this record is when female bassist Shonna Tucker takes the lead on “You Got Another” and “(It’s Gonna Be) I Told You So.” Early next year, The DBTs will release yet another LP filled with country tinged murder ballads. Hell yes.
  12) Punch Brothers - Antifogmatic
Why put this album on here? Pitchfork didn’t list it, neither did Rolling Stone, who cares that this record has completely taken the genre of Bluegrass and made it as intricate as a classical piece of music. Chris Thile, of Nickel Creek has really done something amazing here, he has created an album that is neither bluegrass or folk, and is certainly in no way traditional. Sure “Rye Whiskey” is the closest thing one will get to a straight up bluegrass song. However, listen to the picking progression of the rest of these songs. They are so complex and ever changing that only a prodigy like Thile could even begin to accomplish. This is not only the most groundbreaking bluegrass album that I’ve heard in a longtime; it’s one of the best of the year period.
 13) Grinderman - Grinderman II
With “Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man” Grinderman II erupts at the start. Nick Cave may have taken a few years off from this project, but he lets us know from the get go that he is one bad seed not to be messed with. Cave fills this record with the same mean-spirited apocalyptic ministry that has made him the devilish cult hero he is. 
 14) Local Natives - Gorilla Manor
This album sounds The Dodos, Bon Iver, and Fleet Foxes all mixed into one melting pot. Basically for their freshman release, these guys sound like they have been a part of the game for a long time. They make such lush feel-good music that it is hard to turn away from an opportunity to see them live, hence their appearance at virtually every single summer festival this past year.
  15) Phosphorescent - Here's To Taking It Easy
This record goes well on a hot summer night, with a cool liquor drink in your hand. This alt-country/folk/Americana album flows together nicely, but the two standouts for me personally are the easy-rocking “It’s Hard to be Humble (When You’re From Alabama)” and the slow sing-along “The Mermaid Parade.” This album might not have made it on many other end of the year lists, but it accompanied me through a very memorable part of the year for me.
 16) Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record
Broken Social Scene has always been one of those bands that I’ve been meaning to get into but really haven’t had the time or the chance to. Other than “7/4 (Shoreline)” and “Anthems For A Seventeen-Year Old Girl” I had no idea who they were except Feist occasionally joined them. With Forgiveness Rock Record I had a fresh opportunity to dive in, and I must say these guys have a lot of talent. “World Sick” alone shows how capable these guys still are even after taking some time off. 
 17) Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
A lot of my die hard Arcade Fire friends are going to be angry with me for placing The Suburbs relatively low on my list, but quite frankly this was a letdown from Neon Bible. Don’t get me wrong, there are some awesome songs on this album, “The Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” “We Used to Wait” “City With No Children” and especially “Rococo” but the rest of this record is a little too mediocre for the high standards that everyone has for this band. “Modern Man” “Month of May” and “Wasted Hours” would be perfectly fine for any other band to have written, but if you are the group that brought Funeral to the world, then you have greater expectations. 
 18) How To Dress Well - Love Remains
I give and the rest of the blog world credit for introducing me to How To Dress Well. I thought this guy was another Panda Bear avant-garde indie-pop artist. However there is something about Love Remains that makes me return to it time and time again. Shrouded behind the odd industrial noises, scratches and pops is a very soulful singer. This mix of the ugly and the beautiful is what makes How To Dress Well extremely fascinating.
 19) Sonny & The Sunsets - Tomorrow Is Alright
Another product of the San Francisco garage scene is Sonny & The Sunsets. I have already spent a lot of time talking about these guys in recent months. Whereas artists like Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees are much heavier on the rock, these guys jangle around with such fun and feel-good vibes that can draw parallels to Ed Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes. Check out “Too Young To Burn” and “Planet of Women.”
20) Jamey Johnson - The Guitar Song
I must admit, I haven’t listened to this album nearly as much as some records that didn’t make the list, but I cannot deny this records importance. Jamey Johnson, who has been a budding country singer for a while, even penning the terribly popular song “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” creates his breakout opus with The Guitar Song. In a world where mainstream country singers have become so disillusioned with what they believe country to be, Jamey Johnson comes as a saving breath to a dying genre. This is not your daughter’s shitty country album. It’s about depression, pill addiction, and the effects of alcoholism. All of which, is much more relatable than the bland songs about pickup trucks and “being a man.” This is a brutally honest album, and is what Outlaw Country desperately needs to be. 
 21) The National - High Violet
I feel bad for The National, I really do. Their previous release Boxer was so good, that it was almost impossible to top. High Violet comes nowhere close to being what Boxer was, but it is still a damn fine album. I have found myself throwing this on whenever it rains, and I recommend you doing the same. The National aren’t for everyone, practically every one of their songs sounds similar, but they fill their music with such passion that it’s hard not to fall in love with them. 
 22) Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
A few years ago, Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn said this record would never happen, well here we are and on Christmas Day we will have an even newer Gorillaz record to enjoy. This album is not such much dance hall champion of their previous record Demon Days. This further begs the question of, “What are the Gorillaz?” are they a side-project, do they have a definite sound? What we have here is a fun melting pot of all sorts of music culture mixed into one experience. As Snoop Dog says, “Welcome to the world of the Plastic Beach.” 
 23) Tallest Man On Earth - The Wild Hunt
This guy hasn’t changed much from his previous record, Shallow Grave. In fact, it’s more of the same, just one voice and one guitar and that is perfectly fine. This guy sings with such conviction it’s so easy to be drawn in to his storytelling approach to music.
 24) Beach House - Teen Dream
I listened to this record a lot during the first quarter of the year, but after their disappointing Coachella performance, I forgot about this record. As I was looking back on all the posts of 2010 I noticed this was one of the first ones, I threw Teen Dream on and remembered how pretty this record is. Though it may be sleepy, it’s too much of a pleasant experience to leave off. 
 25) Best Reissue: The Rolling Stones - Exile On Main St.
One of my favorite records and an undeniable staple in rock and roll finally gets a much needed deluxe reissue. The first disc speaks for itself, Exile on Main St. is flawless, and I could go on for pages dedicated to each song’s brilliance. The second disc however is filled with b-sides, demos, and alternate takes. What amazes me is that all of these b-sides could have been great, even legendary Stones songs on another album, but they were just trash to them during that era. That’s how high of a bar The Stones had set for themselves with this record. The remastering work is quite impressive too, the record sounds more present than ever. Even if you are the casual Rolling Stones fan, this is a reissue well worth the purchase.

Honorable Mentions: Albums that almost made it.
  1) Wolf Parade - Expo 86

2) Spoon - Transference 

 3) Women - Public Strain

4) Superchunk - Majesty Shredding

5) Mountain Man - Made The Harbor

 Best Concerts I Saw of 2010:

1) LCD Soundsystem - Hollywood Palladium - 6/4/10
2) Deerhunter - Henry Fonda Theater - 11/1/10
3) Drive By-Truckers - The Avalon - 5/7/10
4) Devo - Coachella Music & Arts Festival - 4/18/10
5) Jay-Z - Coachella Music & Arts Festival - 4/17/10

Well, there you have it another end to another great year, please feel free to comment on this list and post your own lists as well. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year we will see you in 2011!


Monday, December 20, 2010

End of The Year Review: Best Songs of 2010

Well here we are at the end of another year, and what a year if you are an indie rock fan! Arcade Fire dominates the charts, The Black Keys break out into the mainstream, and Bon Iver guests on Kanye West's new album. As for music as a whole I must admit this has to be one of the best years I've experienced for music. Some groups have released truly monumental songs this year. Many magazines and critics have released their end of the year lists already, well, here's mine. Keep in mind this is the opinion of one man's musical interests. As an added bonus I have created a Grooveshark Playlist, where you can stream full versions of each song in sequential order for free. If you like what you hear, please be a good citizen and buy the records, it's not too late to get a last minute holiday gift. Check back to see which of these artists make it onto my "Best Albums of 2010" list on Wednesday.

1) LCD Soundsystem - Dance Yrself Clean
 With every LCD release, there has always been at least one song that gets stuck in my head harder than any other single that year. Why? Because I'm a fan. I love a lot of music and I appreciate a lot of bands, but there are only a few bands that I am an absolute adoring fan of and LCD Soundsystem is one of those artists. The way in which James Murphy has crafted the past two LCD records usually opens an album with a club-stomper that erupts right out of the gate: "Daft Punk is Playing at My House" "Get Innocuous" start off at fast paces. However "Dance Yrself Clean" is very quiet and subdued for the first three minutes, which then explodes into a blast of dance punk that will overtake your speakers. When I saw these guys earlier this year, this was the song everyone was requesting at the top of their lungs, and for good reason. Epic is putting this song lightly.

2) Kanye West - Monster
 I have never been a fan of Kanye, which is why his newest record took me by surprise. "Monster" featuring Justin Vernon, Rick Ross, Jay-Z and Nicki Minaj is the album's highlight for me. This song twists and turns with one of Kanye's best beats ever, as each guest steps up to the plate and knocks it out of the park (especially Jay-Z), rapping about being a monster in every kind of definition.

3) The Black Keys - Everlasting Light
 The Black Key's kick off their "Brothers" album with this laid back rocker that is obviously an ode to T. Rex. Dan Auerbach breaks the norm here and sings in a perfectly fitting falsetto voice while he lets his guitar do the rest of the talking.

4) Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Round and Round
 Ariel Pink gets out of his basement, and into the studio with his first ever professional band and records this sure to be indie-roller rink anthem. I wasn't into the rest of the record nearly as much as the rest of the media, but it's humbling to know that this guy who has been long labeled a genius can deliver a psych-pop gem.

5) Arcade Fire - The Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
Win Butler may be the lead singer on paper, but his wife and multi-instrumentalist Regine Chassagne steals the show when she grabs the mic on this album closing anthem. This song proves to me that Arcade Fire still has a few tricks up their sleeves. 

6) Liars - Scissor
 When I first heard this song I thought it was Tom Waits teamed up with Queens of the Stone Age or something. Liars deliver this eerie and erratic rock song that has also been made into what I believe to be one of the best music videos of the year. 

7) Women - Eyesore 
Women return with their sophomore album titled Public Strain. The lead single and core track of this album is called "Eyesore" This track constantly switches things up during the first few minutes of this song before the band finally lays down a groove that is too good to end on its own, hence the gradual fade to this song. Women have always been known to have a great deal of potential, and with this track they deliver a knockout. 

8) Deerhunter - Desire Lines
 It's no secret that Bradford Cox is the leader of Deerhunter, however on Desire Lines he lets rhythm guitarist Lockett Pundt take the lead. This song seems pretty straightforward, the first three minutes sound like a well thought out pop song with a memorable hook ("woah-oh"). But it isn't until the last half of the song where Deerhunter really show their talent as they get into an infectious instrumental jam. The way Cox and Pundt trade off guitar responsibilities creates this wall of sound that I could go on listening to for hours.

9) Gorillaz - Rhinestone Eyes
 I cannot tell if this album was a miss for Gorillaz. While cohesively I think it's their best record to date, it failed to create a huge club hit like "Feel Good Inc." This song should have been that hit. 

10) Local Natives - Sun Hands
  These guys played practically every single festival available this year, their lush sound fills up a huge space like Coachella. I like "Sun Hands" from Gorilla Manor because of its unexpected twist towards the end of the track.

11) Titus Andronicus - A More Perfect Union
When you're in a Jersey punk rock band and you want to create an album that is loosely based around The American Civil War, naturally your first track has to be huge. This song perfectly sets the pace for the rest of this album that is not only a breath of fresh air for punk, but is also a huge achievement for rock in general. 

12) Phosphorescent - It's Hard To Be Humble (When You're From Alabama) 
  This song further proves my point that a well placed brass section can turn any good song into a great one. This song carried me through some great summer evenings. 

13) Drive-By Truckers - Birthday Boy
 Keeping in line with country-rock, Drive-By Truckers return to rock form with The Big To-Do. Mike Cooley delivers a painfully great song about a stripper, which features one of the best choruses of the year "Which one's the birthday boy?' She said, 'I ain't got all night."

14) Gayngs - The Gaudy Side of Town
  Justin Vernon may have not recorded a new Bon Iver record yet, but he has been a busy boy doing guest vocals for a whole slew of artists including Kanye West, Volcano Choir, and now Gayngs. His vocal contribution is what makes this laid back track damn sexy. 

15) Big K.R.I.T. - Country Shit
Mississippi MC releases his first mixtape which features this song that is dare I say? 'bumpin'

16) Dr. Dog - Shadow People    
"Where did all the shadow people go?" Scott McMicken asks as a Paul McCartney-esque piano riff pounds away. Dr. Dog have been a solid act for awhile now, and "Shadow People"  further solidifies their place in the indie world. 

17) How To Dress Well - You Won't Need Me Where I'm Going  
 This song treads the "pure genius and pure annoyance" line and luckily favors the former. This lo-fi experimental artist named Tom Krell hails from NYC. How To Dress Well gained a good amount of buzz this year, and more is expected from him in 2011. 

18) The National - Afraid of Everyone
 There are too many good tracks from High Violet to pick from, much of the media is giving the attention to "Bloodbuzz Ohio" but I went with "Afraid of Everyone" because I imagine it to be one of the better National songs to hear live. 

19) Das Racist - hahahaha jk
 Das Racist is something that I feel hip-hop has needed for a long time: a group that is snarky, sarcastic, smart and still able to lay down slick rhymes. Is this song hilariously serious or seriously funny? You decide.

20) Tallest Man on Earth - King of Spain
This guy could have been pegged as another acoustic artist that is trying to sound like Bob Dylan but he has shaken off that image apparently with his sophomore release The Wild Hunt. He is now selling out shows everywhere, why? Because he's one of the most earnest folk artists around.  
Well, there you have it, that is my pick for the twenty best songs of 2010, remember to check out the  accompanying GrooveShark Playlist and feel free to comment on your favorite songs of 2010. 



Monday, December 13, 2010

The Oxford American 12th Annual Southern Music Edition

Every year just in time for the holidays my favorite magazine The Oxford American, a little magazine about the southern lifestyle, releases their annual southern music edition. As always, included with the magazine is a compilation CD packed with the best music you've never heard from southern artists you didn't know exist. Everything southern-tinged is on this disc, blues, bluegrass, rockabilly, country, new wave, or even contemporary indie rock. This year's theme is songs from and about Alabama. Kicking off the mix is a song from Ralph "Soul" Jackson and his take on "Match Box" This song charges out of the gate with its murky saxophone and chug-a-lug boogie rhythm that speaks of Texas roadhouses. This song from a nearly forgotten artist begins this compilation in perfect fashion. This edition is on magazine racks now, so pick it up while it's still in issue.

Download via Mediafire:
Ralph "Soul" Jackson - Match Box

Friday, December 10, 2010

Best Scene of 2010: San Francisco

As the end of the year rapidly approaches blogs, magazines and every other source that reviews music starts to compile their end of the year lists. I myself am no different and am busy sorting that list out now as well (should be up the week of xmas). It's going to be a very difficult task considering so many great records were released this year. One thing that I've discovered over the years of avidly searching for new music, is that you can typically gauge what region the best of the current trend is pouring out of. In recent years I've seen a swell of great scenes rise and fall from Athens GA, Portland OR, Austin TX, and Brooklyn among others.
This year it was very easy to tell what city had the most exciting music scene. San Francisco hands down. Currently a swell of slime-garage rock bands are pouring out of the bay area that are receiving national attention. Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Sonny & The Sunsets, and The Fresh & Onlys are just a glimpse of this very fertile, very exciting new movement of artists. There have been several garage revivals over the past decade, but no group of artists have experimented and have expanded the traditional garage rock sound as much as these San Francisco artists. I would go as far to say that this scene is the most important music revolution to come out of San Francisco since the psychedelic movement in the late 60s.

Download via Mediafire:
Ty Segall - Imaginary Person
Thee Oh Sees - Everything Went Black
Sonny & The Sunsets - Lovin' On An Older Gal
The Fresh & Onlys - Waterfall

Monday, December 6, 2010

Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Kanye West is an asshole. There is no denying that. However, I am of the party that believes most celebrities are pieces of shit, and he's just another on the pile. Many people thought that his outburst over Taylor Swift at The MTV Video Awards was the last straw and that his career would crumble. Yet, a year later Kanye is back to seek redemption and to take over the world yet again. When this was released a few weeks ago I held back from getting caught up in the hype over this album and wanted to digest this record before I formed an opinion. Practically every critic on the planet has given this record a perfect scores. Some are calling it an instant classic and that it is this generation's Thriller. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy may be a lot of things, but Thriller it is not. However, what we do have here is Kanye West's best album to date and easily the best album of the year. Though it may or may not be my personal favorite record of the year, I cannot deny that West has hit a new level here. Virtually every song is powerful and perfect in its own way. "Power" is a club-banging politically charged anthem, while the nine minute tender "Runaway" finds Kanye exploring new ground. My personal favorite track would have to be "All Of The Lights" that perfectly features Rihanna over a blitzkrieg of drums and blaring horns. This album succeeds where Jay-Z's Blueprint III failed. While Jay's album seemed crowded, this record is comfortable having a plethora of guests well placed and still giving Kanye ample space to do his thing. One favorite guest in particular Bon Iver's Justin Vernon adds perfect vocal backing to "Monster" and "Lost In The World." All in all, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is varied both lyrically and musically and is not only a milestone in Kanye's career, but for the hip-hop genre as a whole. Believe the hype.

Download via Mediafire:
All of The Lights

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Paul Simon

Let me first say, it absolutely astounds and amazes me how good Paul Simon still sounds. At age 69 he still sounds like he's twenty years old. Not only that but he has a new album coming out in March called So Beautiful or So What, and has released the first single off of it called "Getting Ready For Christmas Day" just in time for the holiday season. I was shy to this song at first by principle because I hate Christmas music more than any other genre. However "Getting Ready For Christmas Day" is about as much of a Christmas song as Springsteen's "Born In The USA" is a patriotic flag-waving anthem. Paul may have aged, but his voice is still strong and lyrical wit is as sharp as ever.

Download via Mediafire:
Getting Ready For Christmas Day

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sonny & The Sunsets

San Francisco's longtime local legend Sonny Smith is just now starting to make national waves with his outfit Sonny & The Sunsets. These guys couldn't be coming into the spotlight at a more perfect time. Though they may seem to be riding the wave of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes and have similar musical qualities to them, Sonny & The Sunsets are able to keep their own unique identity to their music. On their debut release Tomorrow is Alright the band jangles their way through songs while Smith douses them with his razor sharp lyrics, "Too Young To Burn" is evidence of that. However, The Sunsets certainly know how to get their kicks, "Planet of Women" is a hazy and often comical sci-fi love song. My favorite song off of Tomorrow is Alright has to be the six-minute plus album closer "Lovin' On An Older Gal." This song sounds like it could have been a B-side off of The Velvet Underground's Loaded.

Download via Mediafire:
Lovin' On An Older Gal

Monday, November 22, 2010

Steve Young

Steve Young should be considered right up there with Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard when it comes to Outlaw Country legends. This guy can really craft a great song. "One Car Funeral Procession" is pure Americana with layered instruments casually plucking away, whereas "The White Trash Song" is a blistering hell-raiser of a country song, with a great trade off of electric guitar and banjo solos. This is country for people who hate country. It's a shame that he's not a household name, but fortunately his albums are still floating around out there. Special thanks to The Rising Storm for the discovery.

Download via Mediafire:
One Car Funeral Procession
The White Trash Song

Friday, November 19, 2010

Horse Feathers

I recently came across the folk group Horse Feathers' cover of Nirvana's "Drain You." I always love it when bands cover a song that is completely opposite of their genre, it is often a hard feat to accomplish but when it is done correctly that band can make the song their own. "Drain You" will always be associated with Nirvana of course, but I'd like to think Horse Feathers made this version entirely unique to themselves.

Download via Mediafire:
Drain You (Nirvana Cover)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Girl Talk

Girl Talk is absolutely a shameful guilty pleasure for me. While he is not my favorite mashup artist (that would be The Avalanches) he makes a great party mixtape. This morning I woke up and learned that he released his new album All Day for free download. You could get it from his website, but it seems the entire world is trying to download it at the same time, so I uploaded it myself. He certainly is talented, I will give him that, and is the ultimate college artist at the moment, but I just wish he didn't remix shitty music. Where Girl Talk succeeds however is when he is able to put together two songs from complete opposite genres and make them seamless like mixing Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" with "Move Bitch" by Ludacris as well as Daft Punk with Missy Elliot. This doesn't work all the time, at one point he tries to mix Cream with Ke$ha which is a painful thirty seconds. However, if you're throwing a rager at your frat house and you want to play every popular song from the past ten years you couldn't do better with All Day, it's a party album that won't let you go.

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Girl Talk - All Day

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New Drive-By Truckers Album!

That's right! Hot off the heels of their most successful record to date The Big To-Do, the Truckers will roll out another one in February of 2011 called Go-Go Boots. Where as To-Do was primarily a rock record, front man Patterson Hood said this one will feature more country-tinged murder ballads. That sounds great by me, some of Hood's best songwriting comes out when he plays down tempo a bit. If "The Wig He Made Her Wear" is any proof of Patterson's uncanny ability to write gruesome and chilling songs, an album chalk-full of murder ballads could be extremely promising.
Check out a little in-studio video they made featuring a new song off of the album titled "Used To Be A Cop"

Drive-By Truckers "Used To Be A Cop" from Jason Thrasher on Vimeo.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Grinderman 2

I am a budding Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds fan. To me, Cave is one of the most prolific and apocalyptic songwriters alive today. Not too long ago he released the 2nd album from his gritty Grinderman project. Though there isn't one song that lives up to the epicness of "No Pussy Blues," I would have to say that as a whole Grinderman 2 is far more impressive than their first record. The album's cover I believe is a perfect image for what this record sounds like, a fierce wolf in a white room. This album is sleazy and dangerous, and I would not be surprised if this winds up on many critic's end of the year lists. Well done Mr. Cave.

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Heathen Child

Friday, November 5, 2010

Smith Westerns

Smith Westerns were one of those many lo-fi bands that splashed onto the scene last year. I thought they had a lot of potential, but I'm very particular when it comes to lo-fi. Luckily, for their new release Dye It Blonde they upped the production quality and cleaned up their sound. With their new single "Weekend" I predict big things will happen to this band. This song is so sweet but with a killer T. Rex like riff. Oh, and happy weekend.

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark

  This album though not extremely popular is one of the most quintessential albums to own if you are looking for the roots of alternative-country. Folk-rock legend Gene Clark of The Byrds fame and bluegrasser Doug Dillard of The Dillards teamed up for two albums in the late 60s. Together they beautifully blended the two genres together creating an album full of emotion and landscape. This is an absolute must have for your record collection.

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Friday, October 29, 2010


Halloween is just around the corner, which means out come the weird ass dark Halloween songs. This one I found off of a compilation called Pulp Surfin' it's called "Letter From Jeepers" by Bob Guy, though on this mix he's credited as Mr. Guy. I have absolutely no information whatsoever about this song, though I think this Mr. Guy may have been friends with or performed with Zappa. The singer gets a letter from a certain Jeepers thanking him from throwing a ghoulish party. It's demented and downright wrong but also quite fun. Happy haunting.

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Letter From Jeepers

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I grabbed this song from Aquarium Drunkard the other day, and I love it so much I can't resist re-posting it. Before "Hope There's Someone" Antony was relatively unknown, now with the Johnsons, Antony is a bright star in the indie world. However, his breakthrough came during this exact performance, at a Leonard Cohen tribute event at Sydney Opera House. He was performing with a great deal of known singers, and was placed towards the beginning of the show. When Antony stepped up to the plate and sang Cohen's "If It Be Your Will" he absolutely knocked it out of the park. This exact moment is what propelled Antony into the indie limelight, and not a damn moment too soon.

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If It Be Your Will (live)

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

With the recent revival of 90's indie rock in full swing (Pavement, Guided by Voices) it's puzzling to discover why The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's reunion hasn't gained mass interest. Though they never gained the fame they deserved, these guys absolutely brought it. They tell you right upfront what kind of music they are, a blues explosion. They recently played The Troubadour here in L.A. and from what I have read, these guys did not miss a note. Hopefully they will be around next year for the festival circuit, they would absolutely tear it up at Bonnaroo.

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Chicken Dog

Friday, October 22, 2010

Alexander: Truth

A couple weeks ago, this song mysteriously leaked on to the Internet and has received much buzz and radio play over on Sirius XMU. It is a track called "Truth" by Alexander. You may recognize him as Alex Ebert, lead singer for Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes. This is his solo attempt, I guess. There is no word on whether he's releasing a solo album, or anything really regarding as to what this song is really for. He is still currently touring with Ed Sharpe, and if they aren't coming to your town, enjoy "Truth"

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cotton Jones

Don't pass by Cotton Jones without giving them a listen. They do a great job at mixing the warm feeling of that old AM radio pop sound with some classic country. Tall Hours in the Glowstream is a cute album, there's a lot of great vocal exchanges between the male and female singers that would make a great indie karaoke duet. For the time being, I'll leave it at that, but I have a feeling that I'm going to come back to this one in a few months and gain a whole new appreciation for it.

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Glorylight and Christie

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ted Lucas

How Ted Lucas has escaped my radar my entire life until now is a complete mystery to me. Thanks to the recent blog buzz of the reissue of this lost 1975 folk album I can now revel in this man's soothing velvety voice. The one song off this album that I have been playing on repeat for the past week is "It Is So Nice To Get Stoned" which is an underrated stoner anthem. What I love about it is that it's very funny and depressing at the same time. While it is a breezy lighthearted laid-back tune, I can also see it as a sarcastic commentary on the lives of burnouts. Regardless, Lucas should be considered among the greats like Nick Drake, Cat Stevens, and Arthur Russel. Unfortunately his work has been out of print for years, luckily those days are over.

Download via Mediafire:
It Is So Nice To Get Stoned