Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Alphabetic Order's Best Albums of 2009


I know, I know!...I've been slacking terribly and not posting much as of late, but I'm still listening to music and thought I'd recap the raddest-of-the-rad of the past twelve months.  Overall, nothing as sonically ingenious like we heard in 2008 (Bon Iver's For Emma, MGMT's Oracular Spectacular, or Fleet Foxes), though certainly plenty remarkable music to keep our spirits alive through 2009.

*I've included a link to my favorite (the best) track from each album with almost every entry.

20: Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros - Up From Below
Though I've heard their live show is the way to experience this 10-piece rag-tag ensemble, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros concocted an entertaining folk/hippie/rock revival debut album. "Home" is up there for song of the year.

19 --> ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of the Dead - The Century of Self
After a string of unfocused mish-mash albums, these indie-prog-rock veterans re-surface with their best full-length since Source Tags & Codes (2002).  "Insatiable One" and its corresponding epilogue are powerful, heartfelt and simply stunning.

18Modest Mouse - No One's First and You're Next
Isaac Brooks and company continue to do what they do best with a short collection of re-recorded new/old A- and B-sides dating as far back as 2005.  Brooks' crusty, aggressive tone leads the affair, per usual; add a horn section and the band's rockin' backing arrangements and you've got 8 tracks that never cease to stimulate.  "King Rat" rules, as does the accompanying video directed by the late Heath Ledger.

17 - Apostle of Hustle - Eats Darkness
An upbeat, quirky mix of indie-rock tracks intermittent with a sufficient dose of weird samples; all pioneered by Broken Social Scene's Andrew Whiteman.  "Soul Unwind" makes me want to dance, even though I'm allergic, and I really dig the reggae dub in "Perfect Fit".

16 > Cotton Jones - Paranoid Cocoon
Warm and cozy, soft and poignant, folky and reverb-ridden.   It's Michael Nau's project, but without Whitney McGraw's subtle vocal presence, I probably wouldn't have cared for this album much.

15 / Andrew Bird - Noble Beast
Big words, catchy melodies, and whistling...I'm all about this.

14 = Beirut - March of the Zapotec/Realpeople Holland
TAO already went on a Zach Condon binge earlier this year...check it out here.

13 :: Wilco - Wilco (The Album)
This is simply Wilco being Wilco; nothing out of the ordinary for the legends, though there are some real extraordinary tracks on here ("Wilco (The Song)", "Bull Black Nova" and "You and I"), surrounded by some average ones.  Not their best (hear: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot), but good enough to earn a high spot on the list.

12 -- Elvis Costello - Secret, Profane and Sugarcane
Where did this come from?! Well, I guess I haven't listened to an Elvis Costello album since my dad gave me My Aim is True (amazing) in the 8th grade.  And this is way different than that.  Good bluegrass is always welcome from a Brit.  "Wine and Spirits" makes me want to sit on the front porch and drink wine and spirits, and "Complicated Shadows" is an expert blend of bluegrass and Elvis' old rock sound.  He even gives a shout-out to Bloomington, IN on "Sulphur to Sugarcane"!

11 ... Jay-Z - The Blueprint 3
Jay-Z continues to make powerful, near-perfectly constructed rap albums.  Sharp flow and strong beats, in typical Jay-Z form, rarely disappoint.  Glad he didn't really retire after The Black Album. ::"D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)"::

10 -> Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca
Dave Longstreth's most accessible album to date, though he doesn't sacrifice any musical integrity by any means.  He's been creating the most unique musical arrangements of any artist in our generation,  and, accompanied by some virtuosic friends, does not fall short here.

9  _  Mos Def - The Ecstatic
Supposedly Mos had been touring around South America when he came across much of the material that influenced The Ecstatic.  Mos cleverly blends afrobeat, jazz, Latin and a multitude of other sounds in an album of really, really good hip-hop front-to-back.

8White Denim - Fits
The Austin, TX trio hold true to the intricate psychedelic-rock sound that made their 2008 debut so impressive.  They build on that foundation with improved songwriting and studio prowess, creating another gem.  I'm excited to see where these guys head in the future.

7 + Passion Pit - Manners
They're the MGMT of 2009; but, as a whole, better to throw a hipster dance party to.

6 * White Rabbits - It's Frightening
Brilliant arrangements, bangin' drums and cool bass lines.  Also, it's produced by Britt Daniels of Spoon, so of course I like it.

5 ~ Vetiver - Tight Knit
So simple and so soothing.  Vetiver's smooth psychedelic-folk sound could keep you calm during the apocalypse.

4 <-> The Dead Weather - Horehound
Another Jack White project landing another TAO Annual Best Of top 10 spot, though this time he's on drums and yields the spotlight to The Kills' Alison Mosshart.  Her raucous delivery backed by some nefarious blues-laden rock makes for an incredible album, one that may help bring blues-rock back to life in today's popular music scene.

3Girls - Album
Who would think an album blending shoegaze, 1950s pop and indie-rock would be so intoxicatingly stunning here in the 21st century?  "Hellhole Ratrace" is one of the saddest and most compelling songs of the year.  Also, you must read the totally insane story of frontman Christopher Owens' upbringing...check it out!

2 \ The Antlers - Hospice
Sonically beautiful and at the same time morbidly haunting.  Songs about illness and sadness, though also reminders to appreciate the good times.  "Kettering" knocks me out.

1!  Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
Four exceptionally talented musicians found their stride at last and composed the most awe-inspiring sounds of the year.  Beautifully layered vocals, superb arrangements and not a single dull moment.  Veckatimest will forever be remembered among the classics of our generation.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Antlers - Hospice

Brooklyn-based Antlers' Hospice is the most haunting and at the same time the most beautiful album I've heard in quite awhile. Frontman Peter Silberman delicately placed each word alongside just the right notes to perfectly convey the emotions that run somberly throughout. Unfortunately, such an incredible album came at a cost: Silberman spent two years in solitude, reflecting through music his relationship with a terminally ill child. His deliberate infusion of personal life and art make Hospice strike fearfully close to the heart, and captivation reaches and tugs gently from each track. A strange feeling, yes, though it somehow comforts, too.

"Kettering" stood out to me immediately and will no doubt fall in my favorites for 2009, along with this album as a whole. "Bear" and "Two" I also like a lot. See video and tracks below.

Video: "Two"
Audio: "Kettering"

Audio: "Bear"

Monday, September 21, 2009

Q&A with Merge Records

Some real great insight here into the difference between independent record labels and the giants, illegal file sharing, and the survival (and success!) of indie labels today, all from the perspective of Merge Records (Spoon, Magnetic Fields, Arcade Fire, M. Ward) founders Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance.

Read interview here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Black Keys/Luda/Q-Tip/Raekwon/Mos Def project

This is going to be unreal. Full line-up includes: The Black Keys, Ludacris, Q-Tip, RZA, Raekwon, Mos Def, Jim Jones, Nikki Wray, Billy Danze, Pharoae Monch and NOE.

Official site: http://www.blakroc.com/index_artists.html
Article: http://www.twentyfourbit.com/post/185857435/black-keys-unveil-project-w-ludacris-rza-raekwon

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Volcano Choir

New(ish) Justin Vernon! If you've read this site I'm sure you know I'm a big Bon Iver fan. Volcano Choir is an assembly of fellow Wisconsinites, including Jon Mueller, Chris Rosenau, Jim Schoenecker, Daniel Spack, Justin Vernon, and Thomas Wincek. I just heard this track on my XM radio (which I'm becoming a big fan of) and really liked it. With Vernon's intimate falsetto and the mention of snow, it sounds not too distant from something you'd find on a Bon Iver album. Material for this group actually pre-dates Bon Iver, though the group is releasing an album titled "Unmap" soon. Hope you like the track, I sure do.


Full album streaming here

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Girls - Hellhole Ratrace



Have you heard this?! Now, I wouldn't consider myself a terribly emotional guy, but this track cuts me deep. Several things about it made me squirm on first listen. The baritone croon, the swarming reverb, and the lyrics, which seem to become more and more profound with each ascending repetition, without at all becoming dull. It's almost as if they repeat incessantly because the struggle he sings about hasn't yet - or won't ever - resolve...or maybe that's just me.

It's sharing songs like this that brought me back to TAO (and due to popular demand, of course). Hopefully I can keep it up this time.

*Oh, and thanks to a completely unfriendly internet search name, it's really hard to find more music by these guys. If you happen to have more luck than I have, please, help out a friend.

Video: Girls - Hellhole Ratrace

**Thanks Matt Golden for finding this extremely resourceful article about Girls! http://www.faqmagazine.org/ChristopherGirls.htm

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

M. Ward - Hold Time

Hold Time, M. Ward's 5th album release on Merge Records, is a manifestation of the enduring attributes of music. Blending folk, rock, and country, Ward transports the listener into some indeterminable yet familiar decade in America's past. Perhaps it's this mystical confusion that is so intriguing about Hold Time (and is likely to be intentional given the name of the album).

Ward entered the indie folk-rock music scene a decade ago when he released Duet for Guitars #2 in 1999. But only lately has he become a mainstream figure. In 2008 he joined forces with actress-turned-musician Zooey Deschanel to form the retro-pop duo She & Him (their album, Volume #1, was deemed the best album of 2008 by Paste magazine). Deschanel accompanies Ward on two tracks on Hold Time, as do other popular names such as folk country star Lucinda Williams and ex-Grandaddy bandmate Jason Lytle.

At first listen, highlights include "Never Had Nobody Like You", the glam-rock love song featuring Deschanel, and a relaxed version of Buddy Holly's "Rave On". But after another listen or two, some real gems begin to shine. The title track lingers slowly as strings eloquently back up Ward's reverberating crooning. The crawling pace seems to slow down time, once again messing with the listener's space-time continuum...or, whatever, you know what I mean. The song's layering is so thick with humidity I swear my headphones began to drip condensation.

Another hidden favorite is the groovin' "Epistemology", led by a steady bass/snare rhythm, some more well-placed strings, and Ward's humble lyrics about his musical beginnings: "Cause I just rolled and I tumbled / down a long road I stumbled / While shooting in the dark as to what's best / And finally, I found you / Without ever learning how to." The lyrics in this song are somewhat confusing though, considering Ward's dependence on music of the past.

The apparent simplicity of Hold Time tends to overshadow Ward's often-complex songwriting and clever lyrics. His attachment to anything and everything antique is self-evident throughout his discography, and Ward continues to hold true to his love for previous eras of traditional America on this one. To get a better grasp on where he's coming from, I recommend digging deeper into some of his older, and might I say better albums first. There's no question, however, that he has a firm grasp on the roots of American music, and no better troubadour to deliver such fine music than M. Ward.

Iggy

Music video for "Hold Time", directed by M. Ward.




Thursday, February 12, 2009

TAO is "hiring"!

If you are deeply fascinated and often turned on by music and would feel comfortable sharing these sentiments on our site, the glorious world of TAO awaits you! Contributions may include new album and concert reviews, concert photography/video, artist interviews, or general music news updates. If any of this sounds appealing to you, please send us an email with your interests at theabcorder@gmail.com.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Interview: The Buzzkills

Interviewed by Nathan Igdaloff

The evening began slowly, I’ll admit, but there was a subdued buzz in the air. An undersized crowd at the Bluebird for a Thursday night, especially with The Buzzkills performing soon. The band has become a household name in the Bloomington music scene as of late. I attributed the lull to a blizzard that had recently dumped massive amounts of snow which still coated the town.

Then suddenly, as The Buzzkills began to play, the crowd not only grew, they became involved in the music, as if compelled by the powerful spirit of rock n’ roll. Not only were the tunes great, but the band was into it, and they brought the whole place along for the ride. What ensued were four dudes who are not only good at what they do, but love what they do, and it showed…and it was contagious to everyone in the room that night. I was fortunate enough to spend a few minutes with The Buzzkills after the show, chatting about song development, The Beatles, and the Bloomington music scene.

TAO: How does it feel to be playing a legendary venue like The Bluebird?

Kyle Gilpin (vox/guitar): We love The Bluebird. The Bluebird is our home base, it’s our favorite place. It’s awesome. Lots of history.

Matt Schory (percussion): I’ve played a lot of places, by far, the coolest venue in the Midwest. The Vogue’s pretty cool in Indy, but this place is really fuckin’ cool. It’s just got the history, it’s just kind of one of those places. If you’re anybody, you play the Bluebird. You can’t be a real band and skip the Bluebird.

TAO: How does it feel playing this gig weekly, headlining regularly. Is that a big stepping stone in your career?

KG: We used to open, and that’s all we ever did. So, oh yeah.

TAO: I’ve seen you guys perform several times over the past few years. Covers like “Don’t Let Me Down” were really just spot-on, also covering some Daft Punk which was unexpected, but also very well done. How do you guys cope with getting your original sound out there, like you are tonight, in a college town like Bloomington where the live music scene is very cover-band oriented?

KG: Well, tonight went great.

John Weston (vox/guitar): My entire history of playing in bands, I’ve been doing it for years…just for fun or whatever. And I’ve never done the cover thing before. I was always one of those people, ya know “eh, cover bands…” But then like, we started doing it not just because it gets fans and gets people to recognize you and all that shit, but you learn a lot about yourself, and people you’re playing with, and what everybody in the band likes to play, and what they’re good at and what we’re good at. And it’s a fuckin’ blast to play great songs! But, nothing beats having a good reaction to your own music. Nothing. Ever.

TAO: I was at your Dark Side of the Moon tribute show back a few months ago, how was preparing for such a seemingly difficult task? Was it as easy as you guys made it sound?

MS: You know we did a Beatles tribute set like a month and a half, two months before that show, and after learning like 26, 27 Beatles songs Dark Side seemed easy.

TAO: But you guys had every element! You had the horns, the backing vocals…

JW: You know what, honestly, for The Beatles, it was all of us having to nail these fucking parts. And you know Dark Side of the Moon is a studio album, and I understand that. But it’s also very like, if you have very good musicians you can do Dark Side of the Moon, you know? But with the Beatles you have to nail the sound, you have to try and make it sound as good as they sound on the record, and we have to sing all these harmonies, play all these perfect little guitar riffs, and all that shit. Just the four of us. And Dark Side of the Moon, you know, we nailed all of our parts, but also there was the keyboardist, he was fuckin’ awesome. He was able to take a lot of that burden.

MS: Yeah, we owe a lot to that backing band.

TAO: How was the all original set tonight? Was that a first?

JW: I think it was a first.

TAO: Yeah, I thought people were reacting really positively.

MS: It’s just hard man, we play the Bluebird usually we’re on nights where people walk in here, we’re filling a whole night and people are expecting covers. It’s the Midwest, and if you want to play any kind of big room, starting out, you gotta play some covers.

JW: And it’s not even that, it’s like…fortunately tonight we were able to get the permission of the owners to let people in for free if they brought our flyers, and Autovaughn’s playing, they’re gonna bring people in. So we had the leeway to do all original stuff. But normally like, if we were to do all original shit, no one’s gonna stay and we don’t get asked back because it’s all about bar sales and cover.

TAO: So did you have to say beforehand that you were only playing originals?

JW: They asked us to do it tonight. They know what we want, you know, it’s a two way thing. We gotta understand where they’re coming from; again, they gotta understand where we’re coming from.

MS: It goes back to the Bluebird being the best venue. The owner here, man, he’s been very good to us. He knows how to build a band. He’s put a lot of faith in us, and it has really helped push us along. We owe a lot, a lot to the guys here.

JW: We play a lot of places, where – not to name names, I’m not going to – but we played for a lot of club owners, and they just want a fuckin’ quick buck. They want us to bring a bunch of people, sell a bunch of tickets, and buy a bunch of drinks. And that’s all they want!

MS: You know, it’s a business, it’s a bar. But the owner has enough foresight to know how to deal with that. A lot of bar owners don’t get that, if you put some backing behind a band, they’re better off long-term because they’re in a band that can pull their bar. And they’ve put a lot of faith in us to try and put us in the right spots to grow.

TAO: On a side note, that seems to be the problem with the big record companies these days. No one is willing to put in the time to harvest a band; they’re after the overnight success hits.

MS: Well right, it takes time to build a band. And the bar owners who have been very good to us are the ones that understand that. We played Joe’s on Weed St. up in Chicago, same deal man. They’ve been nothing but supportive of us, they really believe in us and want to grow us.

JW: With a bar like Bluebird, we know that they work for us here. It makes it that much easier to work hard, we’ll do whatever they want us to do. If they say like “we need you guys to play on a Friday night for nobody, just so at least somebody comes in” we would. Going back to what it’s like to play here, it’s just the coolest people, the coolest people work here.

TAO: You’ve got a great presence playing live, any thoughts on releasing a live album? I’d buy it.

KG: Yeah we have talked about that. We’ve had this experience in the past where on the record you can’t really capture what happens live. I know I’ve wanted to, I have to talk to the guys about it.

JW: We do have live tracks that are out. We recorded the Beatles show, we recorded the Dark Side show, we recorded our record release. But we have a couple live tracks on our free demo.

MS: When we did our album, we hadn’t demo’d a lot of those songs live. The next time we record, we’re playing all those songs live. Because everything we’ve ever written grows so much the more we play it live.

KG: Yeah, that’s what we’re doing now. Tonight we played four songs that aren’t on our album.

JW: And that’s the thing though, not until we’ve played them, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty times do you even know if it’s worthwhile to record. Some of them that we’ve written, we feel good about them now, but when it comes time to record, they’re might be better songs that we have. We didn’t have time to develop them.

TAO: Regarding songwriting, I know both of you (Weston and Gilpin) take the lead on that. How does that process work…is it different on every song? How much does the rest of the band get involved?

KG: Well somebody has an idea, or a whole song, or anywhere in between, and the whole band arranges it, you know, makes it their own.

MS: Everybody’s got their strengths. Some people write really good hooks. You know, I’m the drummer, I’m more of an arrangement guy. I think it’s the drummer’s job to pick up on the flow of the song, it’s my job. Everybody’s kinda got their own thing that they’re good at, and it comes together and it works.

TAO: You guys have a strong classic rock foundation to your sound, do you have any intentions on taking that anywhere else, or is it sort of a natural process in terms of style development?

KG: We step out of those a little bit, you know just to keep things a little fresher. But I think that’s kind of like our –

MS: …bread and butter.

KG: Yeah.

MS: Every band is a product of their influences. And our influences as a whole, everybody can agree that that’s what they grew up on, that that was their influence. Like, I’m a big metal-head you know? I like everything, I like techno, I like electronica and shit. Everybody kind of has their thing, but classic rock is a fundamental that we all kinda came from.

TAO: So what are your guys’ plans moving forward?

MS: Recording a new album. We’re going to try and do a new EP hopefully this Spring, get it out by this Summer. There are plans to focus on five or six really solid songs – as opposed to doing a whole other album – just get an EP out there. It doesn’t cost much to do, doesn’t take too much time. We’re just trying to keep kickin’ out more music, ya know?

JW: I think also…trying to warm-up the idea that everywhere we go, you know we talked about covers versus originals, everywhere we go we have to play a cover. No one’s going to come out to a band they’ve never heard of if they don’t have a reason. So, if everywhere we go we could do this kind of thing (playing all originals), if we could get to this point everywhere we go, that would be fantastic, you know? If we could get people to come out, hear our original music, know who we are and know that we’re a good band, like us, like our originals…that’s my big thing.

KG: We do have a lot of work to do to get to that point.

MS: They were enjoying it tonight, man!

###

You can purchase The Buzzkills' new album Which Way is Down on iTunes, their site, or see them live!

Myspace: www.myspace.com/thebuzzkillsmusic

Official site: www.thebuzzkills.com


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Realpeople - Holland EP

The first thing you notice is an absence of the exotic flare so prevalent in every previous release by Beirut's Zach Condon (tagged here as Realpeople, one of his pre-Beirut pseudonyms). No horn section or accordion sweeping you away to some foreign European festivity, but rather the image of a dude hunched over his Casio CZ-101 poking the keys meticulously with only his two index fingers. Don't freak out yet, be patient as Condon's melodic crooning enters the scene and makes everything ok.
Althought the backing music may not reveal, the opening track "My Night With The Prostitute From Marseille" revisits Condon's fascination with Europe, as he sings about morals and an encounter with...well, read the title. Only Condon's delicate voice and phrasing could make such a relationship sound so romantic.

More synthesized beats and melodies follow on "My Wife, Lost in the Wild", and once again Condon's vocals bring everything together to enhance the track as a whole. Then, as if he knew we'd be waiting for it, "Venice" incorporates the sounds of Beirut with brief yet perfectly placed horns nestled by a Zero 7-like echoing ambiance.

Continuing with what he knows best, more horns and accordion lead the way through "The Concubine", the track most similar to Condon's prior releases. But, not for long, as the final track "No Dice" returns to the synth accompaniment like the opener, this time slightly more upbeat. This instrumental is so far at the other end of the spectrum than what we are used to from Condon; I'm amazed it came from the same mind that wrote "Elephant Gun".

As fans of an artist, we rarely appreciate when they deviate from what made you love them in the first place...unless, of course, it's good. In Condon's case, I respect his exploration into the pop/synth genre, and think he made a commendable attempt. His vocal delivery, alluring lyrics and often clever fusion of electronic and acoustic sounds make this an interesting listen to say the least; but I think the multi-cultural sound he has going with Beirut has more intriguing paths to follow other than this one.

Iggy


Friday, January 23, 2009

Beirut - March of the Zapotec EP

We begin with a Mexican parade. This isn’t your “Mexico-day” in Columbus, Ohio parade. This is an authentic Mexican funeral parade, filling the streets and passing by on the way through your village. This is exactly how Beirut’s Zach Condon starts out his newly leaked EP, March of the Zapotec.

After “El Zocalo’s” prologue, “La Llorona” starts like the Beirut you’ve loved in Flying Club Cup and Gulag Orkestar. It has the haunting sadness of the Eastern European gypsy aesthetic with the grandeur and bouncing flow of the small town obscure Mexicans he merged with. You still want to wave your hand along with the tubas, interjecting clarinets and accordions.

“My Wife” should feature a gunslinger with the opening horns. I can do nothing but picture a silent cowboy film, the mariachis playing on the side of the screen. Robert Rodriguez could use this entire track for any of his Desperado features.

“The Akara” is the saddest track on Zapotec, rolling into a ukulele base and waltzing around a grand hall. While most of Condon’s songs never venture into any realm of happiness, this song especially feels like sadness. Listening now, I’m still amazed how well he can switch his sound so flawlessly from gypsy folk to Mexican troubadour. “On a Bayonet” acts as an extension of “Akara”, an Act II in the EP that slightly complicates the plot – still sad, but change is coming.

I’ve been referring to this EP as a story for a reason. Listen to it and you’ll figure it out. Condon conceived the idea for Zapotec in early discussions about recording a movie soundtrack in Mexico. This morphed into his idea of hiring a local Mexican band to help him record some new material. He hired a translator, caught a plane to Oaxaca, and made his way out to the tiny weaver village of Teotitlan del Valle, where he met the nineteen members of The Jimenez Band.

I’ve included my absolute favorite song of the EP, the epilogue, “The Shrew”. I’d like you to listen to it, form your own opinions, and either leave a comment, or send us an email at theabcorder@gmail.com.

The Count


New leaked EPs from Beirut! Free download!

A free download of Beirut's new leaked double EP, March of the Zapotec and Holland. We wanted to post quickly, so we haven't even had a chance to listen yet, this is just for you! Enjoy it as we surely will!

Download here

Tracklisting

Disc 1 - March of the Zapotec:

1 - El Zocalo
2 - La Llorona
3 - My Wife
4 - The Akara
5 - On a Bayonet
6 - The Shrew

Disc 2 - Holland:

1 - My Night With the Prostitute From Marseille
2 - My Wife, Lost in the World
3 - Venice
4 - The Concubine
5 - No Dice

A TAO review coming soon!


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Village Voice explains the Vampire Weekend phenomenon

Someone finally puts their finger on it. Why they're great, but you simultaneously hate them. Here's the link

and an excerpt -

“They’ve merely outed the truth of indie, which was never really The People’s Music for all its affected sloppiness and “beautiful loser” tropes, instead always much more of an upper-middle-class milieu, the kids recoiling from the commercial and mass-produced just like their parents did via artisanal foodstuffs and antiques.”
“The People vs. Vampire Weekend”

Check it out, a fantastic read.

The Count

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fleet Foxes play SNL

I'm somewhat shocked, and at the same time thrilled, that a band like Fleet Foxes landed a spot on SNL last weekend. I'd be interested to know how many independent label artists have appeared on the show in it's 30+ year history. I bet not many.

They played one of my favorites, "Mykonos", off their debut Sun Giant EP which was released a few months prior to their highly acclaimed self-titled album (which features "Blue Ridge Mountains", also played during the show). Getting bands like Fleet Foxes to appear on SNL just might give us a reason to start watching again.

Iggy

"Mykonos"
video

"Blue Ridge Mountains"
video

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

RIP Ron Asheton

Let's pay homage to The Stooges guitar player Ron Asheton who died today in his Ann Arbor home at the age of 60. No cause of death was given.

“He was a great friend, brother, musician, trooper,” Iggy Pop and the other Stooges said in a statement e-mailed by Virgin. “For all that knew him behind the facade of Mr. Cool & Quirky, he was a kind-hearted, genuine, warm person who always believed that people meant well even if they did not.”


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Glasvegas

I recently took a few of my old Phil Spector LPs (I hope he doesn’t attempt to murder me for this (allegedly)), a VHS copy of “The Commitments”, some haggis, and threw them all in an industrial meat grinder. It made a raucous of call-and-response songs, distortion, an old-timey nostalgic sound, and some Scottish accents thick enough to be characters in "Trainspotting". I called this monster Glasvegas. Of course, I didn’t create Glasvegas, it was just an extended metaphor to get your attention.

Glasvegas’ 2008 self-titled album should be a new sound to your ears. As soon as the album starts, you’re in a different place. I’m listening to it right now and I can safely say I’m in 1962, enjoying a smoke in my car in Glasgow, Scotland. Come. Join me. Have a fag and listen.

“Daddy’s Gone”, easily my favorite of the album, brings the quintessential sixties girl group sound that I love so much into a concentrated form. If I thought The Pipettes had it down perfectly, Glasvegas blows them away. The Pipettes carry too much of that early 60’s optimism that follows the girl groups around. Even the sad songs of that era were bittersweet. Somehow, someway, Glasvegas took a genre and changed it at face value. Equal parts rough and smooth, beautiful and ugly.

Immediately following “Daddy’s Gone”, “Stabbed” is macabre and slow, immediately changing the pace of the album. Upon first hearing this album, I was intensely confused. There’s another version of this song on a limited edition 2004 LP that injects “Stabbed” with distorted surf guitar and an upbeat feel. I prefer it immensely over the 2008 self-titled album version. Find it if you can, it’s worth it.

Overall, my lobes are pleased. Glavegas is a pleasant sound, a playful sound and we sincerely hope there is much more to come from this band.

EDITORS NOTE: We’d like you to keep in mind that the purpose of these reviews have nothing to do with us. It’s entirely to get you the reader to listen to music we think you’d like because, hey, we like it too. So take these reviews as suggestions rather than critiques. We do.

The Count