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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Top 25 Tracks of 2009

1)1901 Phoenix

Phoenix - 1901 - A Take Away Show from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.


2)Blood Bank Bon Iver
3)Cannibal Resource The Dirty Projectors
4)Anonanimal Andrew Bird
5)My Girls Animal Collective
6)Two Doves The Dirty Projectors
7)Skeletons Yeah Yeah Yeahs
8)Two Weeks Grizzly Bear
9)Lust For Life Girls
10)Northern Lights Bowerbirds
11)Revenge (Ft. Wayne Coyne) Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse
12)Little Secrets Passion Pit
13)Two The Antlers
14)When I Grow Up Fever Ray
15)Watching The Planets The Flaming Lips

16)While You Wait For The Others Grizzly Bear
17)Bad Romance Lady Gaga

18)Wet Hair Japandroids
19)To Kingdom Come Passion Pit
20)This Blackest Purse Why?
21)Laughing With A Mouth Of Blood St. Vincent
22)Daylight Matt & Kim
23)Gimme Sympathy Metric
24)Island, IS Volcano Choir
25)Young Adult Friction The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Last NEW music post of 2009

As the year draws to a close, lives will get busy, families will go on vacations, and most people will probably be listening to only Christmas music anyways, so this is going to be my last post for new music. I will be posting my top 10 albums and my 25 tracks of 2009 over the next few days with download links. Think of them as my Christmas present to you. So, Love and Joy and all those things to you and your families. See you again in 2010.

-Patrick

THE POST

Fever Ray's self-titled debut, the first solo endeavor by Swedish electronic artist Karin Dreijer Andersson, came out in March, but never gained the popularity it deserved. While Andersson's work with her other band, The Knife, has been incredibly innovative, it is clear that she still has a lot of new and exciting ideas. This whole album is shrouded in a kind of darkness that is unlike anything else I have ever heard. In a year where upbeat, dance electro music was quite dominant, Fever Ray takes the genre in the opposite direction, one of subtlety and vulnerability. Check it out.

Fever Ray - When I Grow Up

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

10:21 PM

It is still early in the night, but I need a brief break.

Listening to music can be an active process, or one can sit back and let the waves of sound wash over them. Because when the brain isn't actively determining what it is that it is interpreting, the sound travels wherever it wishes, and the resulting feelings are surprising even to one's self. Your mind wanders inside of itself and sees whatever it wants to, a daydream.

The Depreciation Guild are manipulating this effect in their song, and I'm having fun losing myself in this track.

The Depreciation Guild - Dream About Me

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's not easy...

In honor of the Copenhagen Climate Conference that is going on this week to address all the things that we should do (but probably won't start doing for another 5-10 years) in order to stop climate change, here is a song with a wonderfully poignant message on the subject...from Kermit the Frog... performed by Andrew Bird...in French (just keeps getting better!)

And while it actually is not that difficult to live an environmentally sustainable life, much of the world would agree with this song and say "It is not easy bein' green."

And that's why we are in this climate shithole today.


Andrew Bird - Bein' Green (Muppets Cover)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Videotwins

Two of this year's best new bands, San Francisco's Girls and New York's The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, both use vintage guitar sounds and up-tempo drumbeats, with a young and infectious spirit that says "let's just have fun." Their music videos have a lot in common as well. TOO much in common--grainy film quality, young friends jamming, messing around, and just doing their thing. It seems fun though, a living room party you wish you were invited to... Anyways, just watch the videos and you'll see what I mean.





I got a kick out of it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Top 20 Albums of 2000-2009 (#5-1)

Here it is, folks. Sorry for all the delays, now that life is dull again and finals are over, consistent blogging should resume (I hope.) And now that the list is complete, I will start to cover current things that I'm digging, etc.

So let the debates about who I SHOULD have put on this list commence! (I look forward to it.)


5) The Moon and Antarctica - Modest Mouse (2000)

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For 15 years now, Isaac Brock has been writing songs about his experiences--but mostly the pain that he has experienced. While often his lyrics are tongue-in-cheek and whimsical, there is true sadness underneath most of it, and a refreshing cynnicism that tells it like it is. The Moon & Antarctica is no exception. As the title suggests, the album has an ice cold feeling to it, coming from the sound of layered, echoing guitars over very hushed percussion. It is a beautifully minimal and emotional sound that chills the bones. The Moon & Antarctica is clearly Modest Mouse's masterpiece; its lyrics and music are some of the best recorded in this decade. But the album is not all slow-tempo, sad songs. When Modest Mouse gets loud and angry, what results are some really rockin' songs that are equally as powerful. I would love to say that The Moon and Antarctica is also important for its influence on other artists, but--to this day--not a single band has come close to replicating Modest Mouse's uniquely wonderful sound.

Modest Mouse - Gravity Rides Everything

4) Takk... - Sigur Rós (2005)

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The most well-known, and, arguably, the best act to come out of the fantastic Iceland music scene, Sigur Rós has shown in this decade that the US and the Mainland of Europe are not the only places that can produce fantastic rock music. In fact, Sigur Rós blows all other bands out of the water when it comes to making beautiful songs, and even though very few people can understand the language that they sing in. However, the story of Sigur Rós this decade has been that music is a language that is universal. Jónsi Birgisson's strangely unique voice, blended with the amazing musical talent of the rest of his band makes a sound that is familiar, yet also foreign. However you describe it, it is beautiful enough to make you cry. By this point in the decade, their music has transcended to the level where anytime a movie-maker wants a beautiful song that is a bit alternative, Sigur Ros has often been the choice (ex: Vanilla sky, The Life Aquatic, and many movie trailers.) Between Takk..., their breakthrough LP Ágætis Byrjun, and the beautiful ( ) album, it is hard to choose their best release. However, as entire albums go, Takk... contains amazing singles, yet retains a wholistic album feel. Takk... also features more guitar than any of their previous albums, and to good results. I am not sure how they do it, but Sigur Rós creates music that is as beautiful as their Icelandic homeland, sharing it with the rest of the world--acheiving well-deserved success.

Sigur Rós - Sé Lest

3) Discovery - Daft Punk (2001)

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To put Passion Pit and LCD Soundsystem on this list requires a nod to the godfathers of the now-popular electro-pop genre, Daft Punk. Daft Punk made hits in this decade that were accessible to and loved by everyone. And I mean everyone. Their music has amazing beats, perfectly captures the spirit of adolescence (ex: "Digital Love"), and it's sexy. On top of that, their mixing and production is rather incredible. But Daft Punk's Discovery was far more important to this decade than just being the album that had both "One More Time" and "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger." The number of young, up-and-coming dance lovers whom Daft Punk influenced with their music is amazing. Without Daft Punk, the modern electro-dance scene would not be what it is today. That means artists like Justice, MSTRKRFT, and countless remix artists/DJs would not be where they are now. And that is why they finish at #3.

Daft Punk - Digital Love

2) Illinois - Sufjan Stevens (2005)

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The best songwriter of this decade deserves this high-up spot on this list. Throughout his work in this decade, Stevens has shown his skills spanning across many diverse genres (folk, worldbeat, electro, classical composition, .... ) And while each of his 7 studio albums in this decade is incredibly unique--with the exception of the similar Illinois and Michigan albums--Stevens' most widely popular and most impressive acheivement this decade is Illinois. There is something remarkable to be said about a songwriter able to dedicate a perfect 24-track album entirely to a US state, only to later release a set of 21 amazing B-sides and outtakes that didn't make the cut on the last CD. Stevens is a songwriting machine, but no song ever suffers from this. Something about the way he writes--the subtlety and the vivid imagery that they contain--makes every song personal. His beautiful, soft voice just makes it even better. And one cannot leave out Stevens' amazing musical talent as a multi-instrumentalist. His use of horns, snares, and flutes on Illinois in addition to the usual guitars, etc. is a new take on folk that is different from all others. And whatever your preconceived notions are about the banjo are,
the way that he uses the instrument on songs like "Casimir Pulaski Day", and "Decatur" will make you fall in love with it. Illinois is Americana music for a new generation, and while it is hard to say at this moment whether or not it will stand the test of time--it sure deserves it.

Sufjan Stevens - The Predatory Wasp of the Pallisades Is Out To Get Us


1) Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene (2005)

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The only band featured twice on this list, Broken Social Scene takes the title with their 2005 self-titled release. Everything said about You Forgot It In People rings true on this album, but to even greater magnitude. The quiet jam songs are even more intimate, contrasting with huge anthems that will wake you up and inspire you. With this release, Broken Social Scene writes about the problems of our decade, but leaves the anti-war songs for Neil Young and Green Day to write. Instead, Broken Social Scene identifies a more immediate problem with people in modern society--apathy and the lack of loving, personal connections. And wouldn't most of our problems in the world be solved if we all just cared a little more? As song titles like "Handjobs for the Holidays" and lyrics like "why are you always fucking ghosts?" suggest, people care more about pornography and other fantasies over real connections with people--an interesting thought. With this album, the Canadian indie collective tries to make sense of a world that is going crazier every second. As with most great pieces of art, the album gives no answers, but instead provides a catharsis of emotion and a chance to scream out all the frustrations that life throws at you. And it accomplishes that goal perfectly.

Broken Social Scene - Superconnected

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Top 20 Albums of 2000-2009 (#10-6)

10) Andrew Bird & The Mysterious Production of Eggs - Andrew Bird (2005)

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Andrew Bird has been quoted in interviews, saying that there are always hundreds of different melodies swirling around in his head. Music is what he does. All. The. Time. Classically trained in violin performance from Northwestern University (no, that didn't influence my decision), Bird is also proficient at guitar, mandolin, and, as his name implies, whistling. Though Bird has a back-up band (with Martin Dosh playing drums), The Mysterious Production of Eggs is all Bird's creation, utilizing loop pedals to create layers upon layers of beautifully orchestrated music. As for lyrics, Bird's words have a musical, poetic quality, which is only appropriate, considering Bird's musical mind. While Armchair Apocrypha and Noble Beast, were fantastic releases as well, The Mysterious Production of Eggs stands out as a folk album that brings the genre to a whole new level of well-planned orchestration and musical brilliance.
Andrew Bird - Fake Pallindromes

9) For Emma, Forever Ago - Bon Iver (2008)

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At a first glance, Justin Vernon with his mountain-man beard and acoustic guitar looks like he could stand in for Iron & Wine's Sam Beam or any member of Fleet Foxes. Similarly, when listening to some of the tracks off of Bon Iver's album, his falsetto voice heard over relatively simple chord progressions lends comparisson to plenty of other folk acts nowadays. Make no mistake. For Emma, Forever Ago was created with precise intention, overflowing with the kind of emotion that only a winter of isolation in the woods could provide. If you pay close attention, there is something new to discover on every listen: a subtle twang of a banjo, a quick hammer-on of a guitar, or a high-pitched howl, each of which can be heartbreaking. Justin Vernon is a very talented musician, but there is nothing showy about this album. The sounds he creates are subtle and hushed, creating a tension that remains until moments like the end of "The Wolves (Act I and II)" when he loudly lets everything come out. With For Emma, Forever Ago, each song has its own dramatic arc like this, allowing listeners to follow along with Vernon through this beautifully sad album

Bon Iver - Lump Sum


8) At War With the Mystics - The Flaming Lips (2006)
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This album is under-rated. I know that Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots is widely considered to be The Flaming Lips' triumph of the decade, but At War With The Mystics takes the successful elements of Yoshimi and brings a somewhat darker, even more existential element to it. Yoshimi was a beautiful record. The sound was great, and it celebrated being silly, while still containing very serious moments about life, love, and loss. At War... is sonically equally as interesting, but is a little bolder. There is no comfortingly silly image of Pink Robots on this album, only real questions from Wayne Coyne about corruption, existence of the supernatural, and our minuscule roles in a much grander universe. The album is still fun, and contains very funny lyrics, but it is a little more unsettling than any of their previous works, causing listeners to think about life more critically than ever before.
The Flaming Lips - Vein of Stars

7) Sound of Silver - LCD Soundsystem (2007)

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James Murphy makes great dance music, often with a jaded, "who cares" attitude to his songs that make them all the more fun to jam along with. As shown by the first LCD Soundsystem release, he is excellent at poking fun at other artists, but with Sound of Silver, Murphy turned his focus inwards, becoming alarmingly vulternable in his songs. Sound of Silver shows a man who has had fun making dance music in his life, but is now beginning to contemplate all the issues that come with growing older (losing friends, mid-life crisis, death). And how does he contemplate these things? By making one of the best pop/dance music albums of the decade. This album is fun and sarcastic, but also angry and chillingly vulnerable. This kind of real emotion is most often lost in good dance bands, but LCD Soundsystem get it spot on.
LCD Soundsystem - Someone Great


6) Funeral - Arcade Fire (2004)

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Funeral may have been the most buzzed-about indie album of this decade. With good reason. Not a single track disappoints. From "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" to "In the Backseat", the album provides big anthems that have artistic depth as well, not an easy feat. Funeral is the album you can jump and scream along with or sit in bed and contemplate with. A rock band combined with big percussion, bells. accordion, and a full string section, the Arcade Fire are instrumentally unique and they blend together incredibly well. And because so much has been said about Funeral already, I will not keep going on. It rightfully deserves this place in the top 10.

Arcade Fire - Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Top 20 Albums of the 2000s (#15-11)

15) You Forgot It In People - Broken Social Scene (2002)
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We can agree that "indie" music dominated this decade. There were many different areas putting out great music in this genre (San Francisco, London, New York, LA) but the Montreal/Toronto tagteam in Canada gave us some of the best--Arcade Fire, Islands, Final Fantasy, Stars, Metric, and Feist, to name a few. Emerging from strong friendships between members of some of these acts, Broken Social Scene is the super-est of indie supergroups, currently comprised of 19 contributing members. Each member brings their own contribution to the BSS sound, resulting in an album like You Forgot It In People that is lyrically and musically diverse and never gets old. The album is clearly a collaberative work of some talented songwriters, with lyrics and orchestrations that are "artsy" but still accessible. One would guess that a band with this reputation would be disconnected from the world of us less "super" artists, but somehow You Forgot It In People invites you in on every song. Broken Social Scene is immense, yet surprisingly intimate, capturing the loud and soft, the pissed off and the romantic side of the human experience. And they love to share their thoughts with you in a way that is beautiful and humble. You Forgot It In People is an extraordinary achievement


14) And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out - Yo La Tengo (2003)
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Before And Then Nothing... came out, Yo La Tengo had earned its rep by being a group that jumped from genre to genre writing some pretty loud and rocking songs about love. This album was radical in that, for the most part, it stuck to one genre: slow-paced love songs. The husband-and-wife duo really know how to pull at heartstrings, at with And Then Nothing... they write songs that alternate from joyful to heartbreaking. All the fast-paced energy from their previous albums is not lost here, but rather more focused on a simpler settling, really delving into what the process of love can be like. It is true that not every song hits on this album, but that isn't how And Then Nothing... operates. When it works, it REALLY works.


13) Bitte Orca- Dirty Projectors (2009)
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You will notice that two pretty big names are missing from my list, Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear. I do not mean to group the two in the same category--they are very different artists--but they were both hailed as champions of the experimental music genre. I will admit, I do not like Animal Collective. Yes, I said it. As for Grizzly Bear, I enjoy their music very much, but, in my mind, the experimental-indie album of the decade goes to the Dirty Projectors with Bitte Orca. The album is crafted masterfully and artistically, using the voice as an instrument and layering it in as part of a much grander sound. The album is sometimes an R&B record and sometimes an indie record, but it is recorded with technical precision and complicated rhythms that are uncharacteristic of both those genres. Lyrically it is also a success. Although some may count this against the Dirty Projectors, Bitte Orca is an experimental album that can be enjoyed by more than just a small dedicated fan base.


12) Return To Cookie Mountain - TV on the Radio (2006)
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Return To Cookie Mountain was a bit of a mind-blower. Crazy percussion, the mix of low, grumbling voices with high falsettos, whistling, and ocassional brass and saxophones combined to make one of the most interesting instrumentations on any rock/indie album of the decade. This great sound was combined with chilling songs written about being completely disenchanted with the Bush administration and the problems of our times. The rage behind "Wolf Like Me" and the anti-war message of "I Was A Lover" made for anthemic songs that were great to rock to as well. Works for me.


11) Manners - Passion Pit (2009)
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The 2000s saw electronic music explode again--especially in the latter half of the decade--from Timbaland and Lady Gaga, to Justice and Daft Punk. (Even Beirut got in the mix!) With it being so popular, It got to a point where it seemed like anybody with a home synthesizer and a drum machine could get a single on the air. By 2009, however, Passion Pit had the time to take in all of the most fun elements of electronic pop, mix it with Michael Angelakos' screaming falsetto and well-composed songwriting, showing what electronic music can be at its very best. Manners is the summer album that you can dance your heart out to, but has the emotional depth to carry you through the dark winter as well. Everyone can agree that "Sleepyhead" and "The Reeling" were some epic singles, but tracks like "Eyes as Candles" and "Swimming In The Flood," are shockingly emotionally mature--while still being dance-able. I can't get enough of it.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Top 20 Albums of the 2000s (#20-16)

20) Demon Days - Gorillaz (2005)
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Damon Albarn was all over this decade, producing 2 excellent albums with Gorillaz, doing several solo works, and recording with a side project, "The Good, The Bad, and The Queen." All of this after a great career with his old band Blur. With 2005's "Demon Days," Albarn reached arguably the pinnacle of his career, creating an album that blends rock, dance hall, and hip-hop to form some catchy singles and some even more impressive deep cuts. The album addresses the insustainability of our modern lifestyle, but more important, it rocks the house.

Gorillaz - Kids With Guns

19) The Electric Version - The New Pornographers (2003)
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The term "power pop" has been around for a long time, but The New Pornographers have mastered the art, creating with "The Electric Version" an album that is first and foremost a rock album, but with pop sensibility. The minute-long sections of harmonious "na-na-na"s and "no-no-no"s never feel forced or drawn out, but instead add another layer of texture to the driving rock and roll sound. The talent of Neko Case and Dan Bejar added to AC Newman made the New Pornographers one of the most exciting out of the many indie "supergroups" of the decade.

The New Pornographers - The Laws Have Changed

18) The Meaning of 8 - Cloud Cult (2007)
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The whole story behind Cloud Cult's music makes you want to love them before you hear a single song. A married couple loses their very young child and then spends the next 10 years writing songs about purpose in life, how to deal with the shit life throws at you, and in general spreading more love to the world as a way of coping. Even better, they are an entirely carbon-neutral band, recording, distributing albums, and touring in an eco-friendly manner. What's more, THE MUSIC IS GOOD. Blending experimental elements with gorgeous instrumentation and lyrics that probably should be too cheesy, but instead feel just right. "The Meaning of 8" shows a Cloud Cult that has had time to mature and, frankly, become better songwriters. The album is so much more than an ego-boost for all those who feel a bit beaten by life, but is a well-composed effort that deserves to be heard by all.
Cloud Cult - Chain Reaction


17) Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? - Of Montreal (2007)
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Who knew break-up albums could be this fun? From start to finish, "Hissing Fauna" leads the listener on a ride through all stages of break-up depression, hatred, and indignation, but is simultaneously arguably one of the most fun albums of the decade. The album is poppy, funky, disco-y and dangerously catchy. It is also provides some fantastic one-liners that might come in handy for anybody who has recently gone through the difficult process. When Kevin Barnes sings lines like "I want to pay some other girl to just walk up to her and hit her" one instantly understands and even wants to sing along. And it's great for dancing.
Of Montreal - Bunny Ain't No Kind of Rider


16) Blue Scholars (Self Titled) (2005)
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During a decade when artists like Lil' Wayne and Kanye West topped the charts (and most decade-end lists) for their excellent production and "clever lyricism," Blue Scholars deserves a nod for the music they have created. MC Geologic's lyrics happen to be right on par with anything mainstream rap produced this decade, but without any of the ego that one comes to expect from rappers, and intended to empower and break stereotypes, rather than reinforce them. If the decade wants to be defined by Lil' Wayne singing "Shorty wanna fuck..." and Kanye rapping about "gettin' brain in the library cause I love knowledge," then those artists deserve to be on the list. But the fact of the matter is that in a decade full of economic strife, selfishness, and prejudice of all sorts, Blue Scholars were writing about ways to solve these issues, all over some sick beats from producer Sabzi that rival anything Timbaland made this decade.

Blue Scholars - No Rest For The Weary



Friday, October 30, 2009

1st Post!!!

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Stay tuned over the next few days for my Top 20 albums of the decade list.

I feel like I'm talking to nobody... Good thing I enjoy doing this.

The Flaming Lips - Halloween on the Barbary Coast